Don’t Forget to Express Gratitude with Intention and Meaning

boss sitting at conference table speaking to team

Saying “Thank You” (and meaning it) isn’t always easy. But, when done right, it can mean so much.

If you’ve read the book that Bill Treasurer and I co-authored, “The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance,”  you know that Chapter 5 details the story of how my own hubris took me down, and how I had to leave the Navy after 13+ years of service because of my two-time failure to be selected for a promotion. The chapter isn’t easy for me to read, and I can tell you it wasn’t easy to write. It brought back some bad memories. It was also the first time I’ve told the story of how my ego and sense of invincibility as a Navy SEAL was shattered and taken from me. Finding my way after having lost something that I worked so hard to achieve and loved so much, led to a very dark period of my life. I was angry, frustrated, and extremely resentful.

Humbled but Not Defeated

The beauty of the story, as I detail in Chapter 6, is that even though I was humbled and at my lowest, I didn’t quit. Through the constant encouragement of a small group of family, friends, and colleagues, I was able to get back into the Navy, resurrect my military career, and be a SEAL again for another 17+ years. I’m forever grateful to those select few who believed in me and encouraged me to not ring the bell and give up! I appreciated every day I was back in uniform, and through experiencing adversity and failure, I came back a better officer and person!

As I write this blog on Veteran’s Day, I’m forever grateful for my time in service and the opportunity to work with, and lead, some brave Americans.

During my career, I was always amazed at the ability of a few select commanders to “work” a crowd of sailors and/or soldiers they were visiting. They could walk into a dining facility and easily make their rounds by sitting down and mingling with the tables full of military personnel, talk with them, shake some hands, share stories, and hand out some challenge coins. Their visits and time spent with the troops saying “Thank You” was invaluable to esprit de corps and morale, and it was a trait that I tried to emulate as I advanced as a leader.

boss speaking to team at conference table

As I write this blog on Veteran’s Day, I’m forever grateful for my time in service and the opportunity to work with and lead some brave Americans. I’m also thankful to know that there continues to be a steady supply of young Americans willing to volunteer and swear to defend this great country of ours, anytime and anywhere!

Coach’s tip(s) of the month:

  • Be grateful and gracious. Like Bill and I wrote in our book, always be grateful for those whose lives you impact through your leadership, and always be thankful for those who further your life as well!
  • Say “Thank You” often and freely, and when you say it…. MEAN IT!!

Happy Thanksgiving! See you all in December!

Bill Treasurer

About John Havlik

CAPT John “Coach” Havlik, U.S. Navy SEAL (Retired), led special operations teams around the world during his 31-year naval career, to include the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the SEAL’s most elite operational unit. CAPT Havlik was a nationally-ranked swimmer, and is a member of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame and Mountaineer Legends Society. @CoachHavlik

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