Unopened Gifts

November 2011

You may have heard about, or experienced, the big snowstorm many eastern states got this past weekend. It certainly caught me by surprise; seven inches of snow was not factored into the activities we had planned for our houseguests. So, there we were, snowbound in West Virginia. Fortunately, we had wonderful friends to visit with, plenty of food, lots of good books and board games, and a truckload of firewood to keep the house snug and warm. My artist friend and I were talking about the beautiful snow and how the light played on it, when suddenly Jim remembered that I had an unopened gift in my study from five Christmases ago. We brought it out and were delighted to discover that it was an artist’s easel, complete with paints and brushes. The next thing I knew, my friend was treating me to a four-hour painting lesson as he sketched and then painted the snowy landscape that we looked out on. By evening, he produced a lovely painting that he gave to us as a housewarming present.

As the afternoon unfolded, my friends asked why I had never opened such a wonderful gift. The answer was that I was just always too busy with work, or tired, or daunted by the thought of fumbling through any attempt to paint. So the easel and paints sat, unopened, for years. I realized that I had let busyness get in the way of experiencing something I have always wanted to try. My friends (both of whom are brilliant artists in their own right) inspired me to begin exploring the world of painting. We even found a cache of brushes, sketch pads, and instruction books for beginners that I had put away for…someday.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson, which is to open gifts that life brings us. Don’t ignore them, or minimize them, or push them away. How often do we receive a compliment, an offer to help, a material gift, a word of encouragement, or a rare opportunity that we don’t embrace? I want to open up to the bounty of the world around me, and all the gifts that come my way. Other examples of gifts in the workplace might be a talented staff member; a partner’s insights; support for a new idea; valuable feedback from customers; a chance to work on mastering a skill. Are there any gifts that you have left unopened or unused? How might you use such a gift now, and what would it mean to your work and life if you were to explore those gifts?

As I wrote this Musings, I realized that there is another gift I received that I want to share with you. It is the gift my client Eric Brotman gave me in the form of an interview he did with Investment Advisor Magazine, about his experience working with me as his coach. I am very grateful for Eric’s kind and enthusiastic comments about our work together over the past dozen years. You may read it here:

Warm regards,

Sharon Keys Seal

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