The business of being truly thankful

December 2, 2013 

This is the time of year that I usually like to reflect on the past year in my column, not specifically about tourism. I have recently been contemplating whether I am really thankful in life on a consistent basis. The short answer that quickly comes to mind is probably not, especially since I can easily admit that the rigors of my daily life can be the excuse for being remiss in this particular thought process. Actually, the times I reflect on being thankful is when I encounter an underprivileged child or a struggling adult. They give thanks with emotion for the simplest gesture of kindness toward them, and I walk away realizing that I need to be more focused daily on being thankful for all of the blessings I have received in my life. I am really concerned that my lack of thanks or appreciation is the mindset that can be common for humans, believing that our rewards are only based on personal hard work and nothing else. As I reflect about myself, I know in my heart that is far from the truth.

One of my personal encounters occurred years ago when I was attempting to secure a job in professional baseball, which was a dream of mine. I didn't have a resume, I had limited education, no business experience, just passion and energy. A guy by the name of Richard Andersen, former vice president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, opened his door and literally gave me some time to pour my heart out to him. Today, I really don't know why he gave me the time, but without his gesture of kindness, I truly know that I would not be in a position that I am in today. Richard Andersen did give me an opportunity back then, a part-time telemarketing job, calling residents from 5 to 9 p.m. in the dead of winter trying to sell season tickets for a team that lost 100 games the year prior, earning less than $100 a week. That opportunity got my foot in the door, and I now finally realize how thankful I am for that, and how much it has impacted my life.

I should be thankful for the current job that I have, and it is a true

privilege to play a part in promoting our beautiful community to prospective tourists. I should even be more thankful that I work with talented, hard-working and unselfish employees at the convention and visitors bureau office, employees who truly love their community in a manner that is unprecedented.

I should be thankful for our industry members that have stood by my side over the past few years, by agreeing to unique partnerships that have allowed all of us to stretch our dollars in the marketplace, resulting in three record-breaking tourism years. Without our partners, there is no doubt, we would have less success.

I should be thankful for the quality of life in our overall community, a community that is led by hard-working public and private sector organizations that consistently focus on our residents and businesses.

Finally, I should be thankful for my good health, many strong friendships, and my beautiful family that I take for granted way too often.

Today, and moving forward, my goal is to better focus on thanksgiving daily, with the hope that my thankful emotions influence others to realize how blessed we all are. The Thanksgiving holiday is only celebrated once a year, but I hope we all agree that we should focus and live with the spirit of gratitude each day.

Thank you for allowing me to share some of my personal thoughts, and I urge all of us to think of Thanksgiving more than just when we sit at the big family table to eat good food and celebrate a great holiday.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, can be reached at Elliott.Falcione@BACVB.com or 941-729-9177, ext. 222.

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