“I rolled the little gratitude Amethyst sphere in my hand, and all I could think of was: Thank you for all the pain you caused me. Despite the sadness I felt, I picked up my little stone every evening for two weeks until one evening I said: I am thankful we are friends after everything that has happened.” ~ Maria Lehtman
Being thankful is one of the most significant superpowers you can master during your lifetime. It might be the most powerful one because it shows compassion, love, friendship, partnership, and authenticity even when you feel you lack in these or other great virtues.
Gratitude needs to be an active thought formulated into a repeated gesture. In time it will grow into a habit and finally culminate into one of your greatest virtues.
Leaders should never forget to say ‘Thank you’
When something goes right, and even if it goes wrong, your priority in any leadership position is to retain and increase loyalty and wellbeing. The only way you will gain it is through the actions of gratitude. Loyalty programs were not created out of thin air – they were made to ensure a brand says ‘thank you and welcome back.’ Your leadership brand should follow the same methodology towards other people. Your peers, team members, colleagues, partners, friends, and family are your greatest allies.
How many times do you thank them? How do you demonstrate gratitude? Do you consider that a virtual member of your team deserves any less gratitude than someone who reports directly to you? Do you think any person would belittle your gesture of appreciation? Gratitude displayed with honesty and integrity is always valued. Even if it makes no greater difference done once – the repeated action will.
How do you climb the mountain of loyalty?
“Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (UP) conducted an experiment on fundraising callers and found that grateful leaders were able to motivate their employees to make 50% more successful calls.”
After running complicated programs during my 20+ years in the IT and Services industry, I know the value of a simple ‘thank you.’ These magic words create the ultimate shift from an effective team to a loyal and effective team. You can assemble teams with many different skills and disciplines, but there is only one that will genuinely touch the hearts of your team members: gratitude.
In a complex project, you are bound to arrive at critical milestones and feel that you are losing momentum. The first action you should take is not to press on people by being tough; relentless and assertive, yes, but these are different qualities. It would help if you thanked people for what has been achieved so far, explain where progress is lacking behind, and then question and observe ‘why.’ Never assume you know why. The larger the program, the less you know what is going on behind the curtain.
To give you an example – one night, I was waiting for a technical design and pricing for a request for a proposal. The internal deadline was passing, and I still didn’t have the complete information. I received a phone call from the person in charge of the design, and I started the call feeling completely frustrated. However, before I let the frustration play out, I asked a simple question: How are you? I found out that my peer’s spouse was being operated on at the hospital.
Can you imagine how the conversation would have played out if I had acted on my initial negative feelings? I thanked my colleague for letting me know and all the work he had been doing on the backend despite the accident. We made arrangements to accommodate the timeframe we had at hand, and I made a few calls to get us more support.
I did not let myself become agitated because, at the beginning of the program, I had decided that I would regularly send out a thank you email to the team, with all stakeholders in copy. I did this no matter the situation because even when things did not go as expected, I knew everyone was already working at their maximum capacity. In doing so, I created a precedence for myself and the whole team. The act of gratefulness went from my thought to action, to a habit, and became part of my practice emerging into my behavior.
When gratitude behavior is reinforced long enough, it becomes your virtue. Your virtues are what make you a leader. Your thankfulness creates an atmosphere of appreciation and gives room for people to be both proactive and innovative. I have known leaders who have used fear or other harmful vehicles for their work. Behind the scenes, people opted to work with someone else if they could choose. Gratitude will always work exponentially towards greater success in customer programs. A thankful atmosphere allows people to be healthier physically, socially, and psychologically. You can find useful observations about this from Entrepreneur’s article: Why Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective.
And when the going gets tough….
“Gratitude breeds engagement: Your employees and coworkers will feel appreciated and will consequently feel like what they do makes a difference.” ~ Dr. Nicole Lipkin
We are still human. And as humans, we make errors and let our emotions take the better of us. I am no different in that respect – there have been times when my patience has been tested. The most crucial aspect to consider is that you never, ever leave your path of gratitude. If you stay on that journey, it will carry you forward even through the tumult of life. And if something else is needed – well, nothing works better than a sincere apology. Leaders are under constant observation. No one expects even a great leader not to have emotions as long as they allow organic loyalty room to grow.
Remember that gratitude is a discipline just like any other. You can practice a discipline to ensure that your actions match your intentions. Here are a few ways people are training being thankful even to the extent that their method has changed their lives:
- Note down every evening 10 things you are grateful for. Next evening read what you noted down before and write 10 more. Continue your practice for ten days, or as long as it takes that you feel a change is taking place in your thought process.
- Note down 10 priority hopes for your life as if they had already happened. As an example: ‘I am grateful achieving great results in…’
- Consider each day one thing that makes you motivated and thankful. Then act on it. Give your positive feelings an outlet.
- Find yourself a gratitude object. As an example, I have often used a stone a palm stone that I keep on my bedside. I hold the stone in my hand and repeat in my mind what I am grateful for. If some area is especially challenging to me, I ensure to include that on my list. The stone helps me to focus and I can feel its energy change during and after the exercises.
- In finding areas of gratitude, consider that nothing is impossible. However, instead of being grateful for winning the lottery, perhaps you could state that you are thankful for being prosperous.
- Ensure to say ‘thank you’ as often as you can in your communication. Even when you have corrections to point out, you can always thank people for their efforts and provide feedback for improvements.
- Run gratitude programs and let that become part of every project you carry out. Grow gratitude to a hero element in your career so that you address people consistently with gratefulness. Formalize it in your personal goals.
- Reward people for a thankful and motivated attitude. Try to find ways to thank as many people as possible while emphasizing the ones who make exemplary role models. Everyone has a part to play. A reward can be a simple message, video, virtual handshake, joint message, even time – with you, mentoring opportunities with executives, training, etc.
If you would like to investigate other gratitude practices, PositivePsychology.com offers more good ideas: 13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises & Activities.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
I am far from the physical capabilities that I used to have, but I thank every morning and evening for receiving constant healing. There are many days when I certainly do not feel that way, but I know that self-association and programming are truly powerful for the mind. We must show kindness to ourselves and our bodies that carry us through the day. I have grown to be more patient and more forgiving.
I do not expect even a handful of people to understand what I am going through, but I no longer get hurt by that notion. The most important aspect is that I know what my capabilities and limits are. And for sure, I know that projecting gratitude is within my power.
To all my readers: A Big Thank You!
You are the reason I am inspired to keep on writing. And I am confident I would never have taken the time to publish my real-life stories through Sacred Stories Publishing.
If you are interested in my life lessons and have the opportunity, I share more about my NDE (Near Death Experience) in the latest Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy anthologies: Chaos to Clarity and Crappy to Happy.
“Rain don’t fall on a witch if she doesn’t want it to, although personally, I prefer to get wet and be thankful.”
“Thankful for what?” said Tiffany.
“That I’ll get dry later.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
American Psychological Association (2010): A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way, Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior: https://www.umkc.edu/facultyombuds/documents/grant_gino_jpsp_2010.pdf
Entrepreneur.com: Why Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/339430#:~:text=Nicole%20Lipkin%20writes%20that%20leaders,to%20focus%20on%20your%20successes
Dr. Nicole Lipkin: Why Leaders Should Cultivate Gratitude: https://medium.com/@DrNicoleLipkin/why-leaders-should-cultivate-gratitude-362203ea0641
PositivePsychology.com: 13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises & Activities: https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-exercises/