Lead with Gratitude
While attending college, I was married and had three children (yes, I was a little late…not with children…school!). My wonderful wife was the president of the children’s organization for our church and because of this was involved in a Thanksgiving service project for those in our congregation who were struggling financially. She asked me to help her and other leaders put together boxes of food and turkeys—I thought it was a wonderful service project! My feelings changed a day later when one of the boxes ended up on our doorstep. It wasn’t until years later that I understood that gratitude isn’t only a gift that you give, but it is also brings with it additional gifts that you can receive including: Perspective, Energy and Guidance. Each of these gifts can help your team and business succeed—keep reading to see how!
No matter what we think we lack or what we’ve lost, gratitude allows us to focus on what we have. It allows us to focus on what’s right in our life, not what we think is wrong. It literally infects (and affects) our attitude and the attitude of our team. Some people think the antidote to negative thinking is positive thinking. It’s not. In my opinion, the antidote to negative thinking is gratitude. Leaders can become absorbed in themselves and their problems; gratitude can help break this self-absorption and helps us focus our energy outward and not inward.
Speaking of energy, the second gift that you can receive from gratitude is the gift of energy. Realizing what we have in life energizes our efforts to do something in response. Expressions of gratitude—notes, gifts, words, acts of service, and the like—re-fill our tanks. When our mental tank is filled we think bigger and better and we begin to lead and not just manage our team. It sounds a little odd, but the more gratitude we show to others, the more we get back. I wonder how many leaders realize that gratitude builds their psychological and spiritual reserves? It does!
In one of my first jobs after college my manager, Bob, gave me a day off to attend the state fair. As I walked out of our office, he handed me a $20 bill. Back then it seemed like a lot of money! He told me to buy lunch for the children at the fair. Three months later, he passed away and at his funeral, his wife hugged me and thanked me for accepting his gift. The gratitude she showed leads me to the last gift: guidance. Gratitude reminds us of what we value—of what is important to us and our teams—and where we should focus our time, actions, money, and attention. It makes a positive difference between what you look at in life and what you actually see. At first what I looked at from Bob’s gift was money, later as I reflected on this moment, what I really saw was love. Gratitude guides us to see past the moment to a vision of what we can be and accomplish.
Let me take this time to say thank you to our team and partners for increasing my perspective, as I am blessed beyond words. Thank you for helping be more excited about the future and having the energy to accomplish these goals. Thank you especially for your examples as they give me guidance to see more clearly what is important.