And the Winner is…Detroit!

February 28, 2012 | Detroit

I’ll confess. I didn’t actually watch the Oscars. I had no way to—why would I pay for cable when I have the city to look at, the city to go into…? But I digress. Like so many of the Oscar acceptance speeches. And that is what this is really about.

I, like everyone else in the immediate reach of any medium of communication with the outside world—internet and radio if not cable TV—heard about the speeches given by the recipients almost as soon as the words were out of their mouths and the little statue had been whisked from the podium.  One of the criticisms leveled at those being awarded is the overstatement of who the winners thank. Past examples include recipients who declare they are ‘king of the world’ or who thank ‘everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life’  or who thank their parents—not for raising them in a way that helped them get to the red carpet, but for the very act that brought them into the delivery room. Definitely an instance of: Too. Much. Information.

But this got me thinking. Who would I thank? Not for receiving an Oscar—that will never happen—but for, say, helping me to achieve something that was really important to me, for making it possible for me to accomplish something I worked really hard at and am equally proud of, for helping me to get to where I am today…  The answers to these questions were incredibly enlightening and informative. To me.  Not to you. So I won’t bore you by thanking all those people here.

But, it got me thinking: What if everyone were to imagine themselves getting a little gold statuette for what they consider their most important endeavors…?  And what if everyone then asked themselves, who they would thank…?

And then, rather than Angelina Jolie’s right leg, I pictured this: What if everyone—if they haven’t done so already—went and thanked the people who helped them along the way to that success?  What if they told those people how each of them inspired, maybe even ‘pushed’ (because sometimes we all need a little push to move forward), or helped them toward that imagined ‘award’? People who may not even know how pivotal they were to a success or an endeavor would now know…and maybe do the same thing again for someone else.

But my imaginings didn’t stop with the ‘speeches,’ they carried forward into real possibilities. Real possibilities that would have even more real outcomes.

Picture this: What if, everyone didn’t just thank the people who helped them along the way, but then decided to now strive to be that person—the same person who mentored, assisted, or simply cheered them on—for someone else? What if everyone decided to play the same role for another person that someone once did for them…for each of us?

Yes. I admit it. Much as I tried to shun the Oscars, my thoughts had led me to a real Hollywood ending.

But they had also led me to realize that what is missing from so many of those award ceremony acceptance speeches that get criticized for over-thanking: the very essential act of being thankful.

When you give thanks, you show your appreciation—which is important. But when you are thankful, literally full of thanks, you show that by passing it on, acting on that gratitude and giving others reason to feel the same way. Grateful for their success. And that, that’s not a Hollywood ending, that’s a real world in which everyone walks away from the podium with a gold statue.

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