Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. Marcus Tullius Cicero

We are nearing the end of a year that has likely been challenging for most of us, including even the most ambitious small business owners and entrepreneurs. Twelve months ago I was brimming with ideas and writing out goals for 2012. I always hope that my business will sprout new wings and land on higher plateaus. The year turned out to offer fresh directions and some tough lessons as some of the great dream balloons turned out to be heavier than air! But the holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving is my favorite time to absorb the past year’s lessons and top up the hope reservoir for the year ahead. We should all devote significant time to listing the things we are grateful for, from the most basic to the most fanciful.

Those separatists and Anglicans (collectively known as the Pilgrims) who established the Plymouth colony around 1620 helped launch the stories and mythology of Thanksgiving. I expect that resourcefulness and fortitude would top the list of qualifications to be one of that hardy and intrepid group.

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. Aesop

I’m grateful for the men and women of diverse backgrounds and capabilities who are working to make their small business dreams come true despite statistical odds and drumbeats of negativity from various directions. Like the pioneers of past centuries, they are headed for successes and failures despite an increasingly tone deaf federal government.

However, thanks should be given to those people in certain government offices who really do understand and value the contributions of small business owners throughout the land. The Small Business Administration is just the most visible department. Yes, I am grateful for the rare breed of politician who has building a successful business on their resume. There is no stronger understanding than to have personally walked the path.

Gratitude is one of those things that cannot be bought. It must be born with men, or else all the obligations in the world will not create it. Edward F. Halifax

I cherish those living contemporary examples that we’ve all seen of people who embody the great entrepreneurial spirit that built America. Don’t we all want to emulate them by simply getting on with the program of creating value in our lives and the lives of others? Regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, and formal education, they never make excuses for failure. It is hard to imagine the early settlers to whom we dedicate the Thanksgiving holiday experience saying “I can’t” versus saying “let’s try.”

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. Henry Van Dyke

I’m grateful that there are still many places in our communities where children grow up being taught the joys of goal setting, discipline and delayed gratification. Those are the values behind enterprises that go from small to larger, from dream to thriving reality. Those who missed those lessons wind up working for the ones who learned and lived them. The principles of success aren’t really a secret and are available to all of us who want to apply them.

Gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep. Felix Frankfurter

I give thanks for these difficult and challenging times. It is in circumstances like these that truth emerges and new opportunities present themselves. With governments running out of money because of impossible promises they’ve made with too many programs, private enterprise will be called upon to help nurture the rebirth of the great American spirit. Some entitlements will have to be replaced by community enterprise programs and responsibility. It is when people are engaged in problem solving and creation that they feel best and are at their healthiest. Soft is not a description that is suitable for a great and enduring society.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

Yes, if I want 2013 to join the ranks of my dream years, it is going to take sustained and focused effort. I plan to read more about those who preceded me in realizing their business dreams. There are others like me who want to build enterprises of value that serve the needs of various communities and I will encourage and collaborate with them. I must reacquaint myself with the hungry, austere and vigorous spirit that made our country great. Next holiday season, I want all of us to require extra sheets of paper to completely list things that we are thankful for. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I wish you success in business and in life.

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