What Gratitude And Toothpicks Have in Common

Apr 10, 2023 2 Min Read
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Gratitude Boomerangs Back To Us

A fun story of gratitude that took an interesting turn.

I was chatting with my new friend, Joey Faucette, who told me he'd recently received a surprise package with a thank you card and a box of toothpicks inside.

"Gratitude is a smile in the heart" was printed outside the card. Inside, a former client had written a note of appreciation for his coaching. She had been skeptical of retaining an executive coach. Still, she took a chance after reading a story of gratitude Joey had included in his book, Work Positive in a Negative World.


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In the story, Joey was visiting a friend in the hospital. He walked in just as an orderly said to his friend: "I'm sorry, we don't have any." His friend looked at Joey and said, "I asked if they had any toothpicks. I love a toothpick after I eat." After a pleasant visit, the thought hit him as he left the hospital: "Go get her a box of toothpicks. It's such a little thing." He stopped at a nearby store, bought some toothpicks, and returned to the hospital, where she was eating supper. Joey thanked her for her goodness, advice, and friendship over the years, and then he handed her the box of toothpicks. "I will always remember her look of surprise and her laughter," said Joey.

This story was the catalyst that helped Joey's future client overcome her fear and trust him to become her coach. And in gratitude for his coaching, she'd nostalgically sent him the card with a box of toothpicks. In return, Joey promised to use the toothpicks to test his signature pound cakes and ensure they are always deliciously moist inside and baked to perfection. He bakes often and likes to take slices to neighbours, friends who are sick, postal carriers at his little post office, and others in his community when he catches them doing something nice.

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As we learn from a box of toothpicks, gratitude boomerangs back to us. So every time you use a toothpick from now on, think about who you are grateful to and how you might express it. Look for some small way to show gratitude to someone else each day; it might be as small as the gift of a toothpick. Then watch your gratitude lighten hearts and minds and eventually return to you.

You may like these:

The Magic of Daily Gratitude Rituals

Gratitude Can Be Golden


This article was first published on Chester Elton's LinkedIn.

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Tags: Values, Character, Identity, Empathy

Chester Elton is the Author of "Anxiety at Work" & "Leading with Gratitude", an Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker, and Founder of the #findyourgratitude Community. He has spent two decades helping clients engage their employees in organizational strategy, vision and values. In his inspiring and always entertaining talks, Elton provides real solutions for leaders looking to build culture, manage change and drive innovation. His work is supported by research with more than a million working adults across the globe, revealing the proven secrets behind high performance cultures and teams. Elton is co-founder of The Culture Works, a global training company, and author of multiple award winning, #1 New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, All In, The Carrot Principle and The Best Team Wins. His books have been translated into 30 languages and have sold more than 1.5 million copies.

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