On Gratitude … and Luck

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] couple of business-related things, ultimately inconsequential, conspired to have me decide that I needed to spend some time simply being thankful. A few days ago I devoted my morning’s meditation to gratitude, and the longer I thought the longer my list became.

Then later in the day the topic of luck came up. It’s all related … I have a lot of luck in my life that I have to be thankful for.

(If there’s any order to what follows it’s simply chronological – certainly no prioritization should be inferred.)

In the past decade or so I’ve come to appreciate my parents more than ever, and I’ve come to believe that I’m exceptionally lucky to have had them. As I look around and hear the stories of friends and acquaintances and how they were brought up, treated and sometimes even miss-treated, I’ve come to realize how exceptional my “normal” upbringing was. My parents both loved me and they loved each other; they were both intelligent and moral people, and they taught me more by example than I think I ever realized. No, they weren’t perfect, and in years past I’ve certainly joked that they also taught much by *counter*-example, but in comparison with so many, I had really, *really* great parents.

They’re both gone now, of course, and I think that I shared some of my gratitude with them before they passed, but still … much of what I’m coming to realize comes only from comparisons made in the last few years.

I’m thankful that my parents elected to immigrate to the United States when I was 3. Not because I dislike Canada – far from it – but more because it was the first of many coincidental, “lucky” decisions that would line up and enable much of my good fortune in later life.

I’m thankful for a good education. Yeah, I was a B’s and C’s kinda guy – my grade point leaving college was something like 3.2 – but it was enough. More important than the grades, I learned how to learn – something that I think is more important than any knowledge imparted in education. I also learned to be inquisitive, and I learned to work.

It was my mother who was insisted I go to college. She was right. I’m thankful for that.

I’m also thankful for her genes – and my dad’s too. Like I said, they were intelligent people, though it manifested in different – and for their time traditional – ways. A lot of the engineer in me comes not just from my dad – who was one – but from my mom as well.

I’m thankful for Jim, who unwittingly nudged my career path at an early age.

The quarter that changed everything
I’m very thankful – and probably quite lucky – that I entered the University of Washington at a time when simply specifying an interest in “electronics” on the application would land you in the College of Engineering. And I’m extremely thankful computer programming was a requirement. Smile

I’m incredibly lucky that my college roommate had a fiance that was going to Western Washington State College in Bellingham who in turn had become friends with a girl that they then decided I needed to meet. As a result on October 7th, 1977 I met my future wife.

I need to underscore that good fortune because, much as I learned how great my parents were compared to the parents of others, I look at couples around me and realize just how *incredibly* fortunate we are to have found each other. At this writing it’s 31 years of marriage, and going strong.

I’m grateful that Microsoft decided to relocate back to the Seattle area when they did, because leaving the area was just not in the cards for me. When the time came for me to leave my first “real” job I looked around at local companies only, had heard of them and applied.

I’m incredibly thankful for what the next 18+ years brought in terms of friends, education, work, work environment and yes some wealth. It’s not many who can honestly say that they worked for a company that changed the world.

Believe it or not I’m thankful for whatever happenstance caused me to find out about and subscribe to an email newsletter called This is True. From that subscription, through a fairly random, seemingly unrelated, yet interconnected series of decisions and events would come both friendship, and the means to define my post-Microsoft retirement/career.

I’m grateful to be able to do Ask Leo!, and am particularly thankful for my readers and newsletter subscribers.

There’s so much to be thankful for … I just can’t do it justice. In some ways it feels like I’d be diving into minutia to do more, and yet those are often as significant in their own way as some of the larger items I’ve listed above.

I’ll close with this: I’m thankful to live right here, right now. The freedoms and technological wonders we have in front of us and take for granted every day are absolutely amazing. The world we live in, despite its flaws, is a wondrous place. I were to advise anything I’d say this…

Take a moment. Stop. Look around.

And be thankful.


  1. I’m enjoy reading about folks who have been able to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. With Ask Leo! you’ve done just that and you have my appreciation! All the best!

  2. David Adams says:

    I know you are tired of hearing thank you comments, but when I had an answer (to a question already put about Fn key) I noticed the Puget Sound mentioned. I spent a year in Seattle at UW teaching med and dental
    students and my daughters went to Laurelhurst school, where Bill Gates went (I believe). This was in 1962-3, slightly before your arrival in Washington! Recently my wife and I have been inundated with phone calls from so called ex-Microsoft workers, telling us that our computers are very slow and that if we turn on our machines
    the problems will, with the callers help, be rectified. Have you heard of this scam? Does Microsoft sanction approaches of this type? I must say before I bore you, a sincere thanks for your help.
    David Adams.

    • Actually I showed up in Seattle in 1960 :-).

      Those so-called ex-Microsoft people are in no way related to or sanctioned by Microsoft. It’s a scam, and you should in NO WAY grant them access to your computer. I have a few articles over on Ask Leo! on the topic. The article on Event Viewer actually has many, many comments from people experiencing this scam.