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5 Remarkable Leadership Benefits of Everyday Gratitude

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Depending on where you grew up and your culture, you may cherish holiday memories of long road trips to visit family, watching in wonder at the spectacles of lights and plastic lawn decorations, going to sleep with your pajamas on backwards in the hopes of encouraging a snow day, eating lots of cookies and eggnog, two weeks of sloth-like bliss during winter break from school, and of course fantasizing about what could be inside of the beautifully wrapped presents.

Now experiencing the holidays as an adult (possibly with children), it is so easy to get caught up in all the “have-tos” that the true meaning of the season is completely lost. We pray that there are no snow days, hate cleaning off the car, find it a chore to do the shopping, wrapping, cooking, decorating, cleaning, hosting, traveling, etc. (while still enjoy the eggnog, though), and like the lyric says “mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again!”

Surely this is not what the season should be about!

It seems an ironic demonstration of the human condition that Thanksgiving – a time to reflect and count our blessings – falls directly before five weeks of a manic display of capitalism. I promised myself I would not let it happen, but I admit I am not innocent of the insanity; while I have never stood on line outside of a department store to get a discounted flat screen, I do have multiple Amazon boxes arriving to my front door nearly every day in the month of December.

Stop comparing yourself to others

When you are just going through the motions and operating on autopilot you get swept away in the fury and intensity of the spree.  We can see this in so many other areas of life, not just holiday exorbitance. It is quite disappointing to think about how we let momentum pull us through the passage of time without consciously making important decisions and actually experiencing the one and only life we are given.

There seems to be a growing gap between what we have, what we need, and what we want. The basis of this is in comparing our story and our journey to others’ – family, neighbors, colleagues, competitors. We are plagued with a constant looking out instead of looking within to gain clarity and awareness of everything that is already there which can be celebrated. We tend to focus on what is missing rather than finding joy in all that is there.

The race for more, bigger, faster, better has us prioritizing the future over the present, and accelerating at such a pace that we forget the value in the pause. It is within the pause that we identify our uniqueness and reconnect with the vision and purpose.  As a leader, there is nothing more important than making this crystal clear to your team to make sure all efforts are aligned to it.

Benefits of everyday gratitude

  1. Avoid mistakes: the most successful leaders prioritize time to reflect. Being a role-model of this practice reinforces the need to regroup, adjust the strategy, assess the environment, and avoid mistakes. You’ve heard the adage “slow down to speed up,” referring to being comfortable making sure you take the appropriate time to get it right, which will always be faster than cleaning up after a sloppy decision.
  2. Choose your reactions: so much of what we experience depends on our own reactions to each circumstance life puts in our path. The way we decide to behave will either enhance our leadership effectiveness or diminish it. Practicing gratitude allows you to be more present, focus on the positive, and spend less time being disappointed.
  3. Enjoy the journey: practicing gratitude does not mean you give up on any further pursuit of goals or dreams.  When you are aware of and acknowledge the talent, skills, resources, experience, etc. that you already have already gained, you will be able to leverage them more effectively for even more success.  With the bonus of really enjoying the journey.
  4. Increase team effectiveness: expressing gratitude goes a long way for morale. Showing your team that you appreciate what they do, even if it is part of the job they were hired for, lets them know you are paying attention.  Not only will it make them feel good (think about how it felt the last time you were praised!), but they will want to work harder so they don’t let you down now that they know you would notice.
  5. Advance your career:  without a focus on gratitude, entitlement settles in. When you concentrate on what you “should” have, or what you are “due,” there will never be enough, and you miss the gifts. When you lead with an attitude of gratitude you effectively balance precious resources, stay aligned to a clear vision, and regularly celebrate successes and recognize accomplishments. People want to hire, work with and for leaders who inspire them and make them feel good.

How to make time for gratitude

We are certainly not the only bloggers who have covered gratitude, so rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, have curated some great resources to help with your gratitude journey:

Forbes: 8 Ways to Have More Gratitude Every Day

Inc.: 7 Easy Gratitude Exercises That Make Even the Most Pessimistic People Happier

The Chopra Center: 25 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude

Try doing a search in your app store to keep a handy digital gratitude journal right at your fingertips; here are a few suggestions.

We’ll close with a favorite quote from Albert Einstein who said, “there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.” You can find your own favorite quote about gratitude here to keep somewhere that will be a constant reminder for you to practice. Feel free to share your favorite in the comments, or any other gratitude practices you incorporate.

What now? 

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