I saw a sign today in a nail salon that read, “In consideration of others, please silence your cell phones.” Despite the sign, phones rang, people answered, and had conversations with girlfriends for the entire salon to hear. Others watched videos on Facebook with the volume turned all the way up.
I watched for two hours as there was absolutely no consideration for others. I pondered as I sat there why that was and what (if any) correlation that had to the events of our world today.
I concluded we are a self-absorbed, self-seeking, instant gratification society, and we have no time for gratitude. In order to be grateful, don’t you have to look up? Is it necessary to connect and listen to others to feel a true sense of thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude?
Ironically enough, the artwork that hung on my office wall for most of season two of “Last Chance U” was a whitewashed board with the word “Gratitude” written in script, and now it hangs over my bed.
I was doomed to work in the second poorest county in the poorest state in our country working with athletes who some might have labeled with just as negative adjectives. I had plenty to complain about and sometimes I did. My complaints came from being entirely too focused on myself. However, when I connected with the athletes around me, and listened to their stories and experiences, I became grateful. Not because I realized how blessed I was in comparison, but because I opened myself up and allowed the people I came in contact with to bless me.
It was a choice. I could have complained about the tiny office I sat in being packed with sweaty athletes all morning, every morning, leading to a packed afternoon of just trying to get my to-do list accomplished. Or I could see the joy that of all the places they could hang out, they chose my office. I got to hear stories, laughter, see smiles, get hugs, and connect with individuals who were nothing like me. In looking up and opening the door, I became blessed. I started counting those blessings. And when I started thinking negatively I would stop myself and consider the alternative that my office could be empty.
I believe that connection with others is where our true blessings lie, and in counting those blessings we become grateful. When we stop being selfish and concerned only with our needs, wants, and desires and start focusing on the needs, desires, and blessings of others do we experience gratitude. I challenge us all to “silence ourselves” and practice acceptance, consideration, tolerance, and love for others. Maybe, just maybe, this is where true gratitude lies.
About the Author:
Brittany Wagner is a nationally respected athletic academic counselor and life coach. She was the “mother” to the most dominant junior college football program in the United States – the East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) Lions.
With more than a decade’s worth of combined experience at the NCAA and NJCAA levels, Brittany spent eight years on the EMCC athletic administrative staff where she was responsible for monitoring the academic well-being of the school’s 200 student-athletes. EMCC’s athletic teams achieved tremendous classroom success during Wagner’s association with the college.
During her time in the junior college ranks, she helped over 200 football players and over 50 men’s basketball athletes reach the next level – many of whom are now playing professionally, including Quinton Dial – Green Bay Packers; Denico Autry – Oakland Raiders; Za’darius Smith – Baltimore Ravens; Jarran Reed – Seattle Seahawks; Chad Kelly – Denver Broncos and DJ Jones – San Francisco 49ers.
Ms. Wagner has recently garnered world-wide fame as the television star of the hit Netflix documentary series, “Last Chance U” – which follows the three-time NJCAA national champions during their 2015 and 2016 football seasons. Known for giving “troublemakers” their last chance at making it to the NFL, Ms. Wagner is the vivacious, mentor and mother-figure to the these men – often times the driving factor behind their future successes. Wagner’s recent stardom has landed her interviews with ABC’s Nightline, The Dan Patrick Show, GQ Online, New York Times, New York Daily News, and several ESPN affiliates. Her common question, “Do you have a pencil?” has become a phenomena across the world since the show’s debut.
For the past year, Ms. Wagner has traveled over the United States as a motivational speaker. Most recently she launched her own company, 10 Thousand Pencils. Through 10KP, Brittany is able to work individually with high school and college athletes, administrators, counselors and teachers on academic success and life skills. She earned her undergraduate degree in sport communication from Mississippi State University, followed by her master’s degree in sport administration. Wagner is a native of Clinton, Mississippi, and a single-mom to one daughter, Kennedy.