This week will provide many reminders of the importance of thanksgiving. It’s hard to quantify the value of gratitude, but among the virtues of leadership, it may be the greatest. Making thanksgiving a consistent part of your leadership will bring out your best qualities, refine the quality of your influence on others and brighten your perspective.
Thanksgiving is the ultimate “self-leadership” virtue. Have you recognized how difficult it is to be grateful and arrogant at the same time? Have you ever tried to be thankful and selfish? If you accept the value of being a part of something bigger than yourself, cultivate your appreciation for your place in the world. Thanksgiving is the perfect prescription for the most toxic leadership behaviors. When you recognize your leadership is suffering or unhealthy, it’s a perfect time to pause, take inventory of your life and give thanks. If you want to become a more resilient leader, try increasing your gratitude.
Grateful leaders are consistent in their outlook. You can learn to be grateful. You can resolve to take initiative instead of waiting for some particular emotional trigger. In fact, learning to practice gratitude in every situation will enhance your leadership. Every leader can get bogged down and caught in the insidious trap of finding and focusing on problems. Nothing helps you transition from problems to solutions better than thanksgiving. A grateful attitude is attractive. When you shift your focus toward the positive, you have a direct impact on engagement and collaboration. It’s a natural shift from negative to positive and people around you will take notice.
If your thanksgiving needs a boost, consider three ways of giving thanks. Here’s an easy pattern that will give your gratitude a shot in the arm:
First, thanksgiving is historical. Take time to reflect. Give thanks for your past: the good, the bad and the ugly. All aspects of your past have helped to shape you and mold you into the leader you have become. Most often, we give thanks for the good experiences and people. That’s less impactful than giving thanks for the tough times. Be honest. You may have learned some of your greatest lessons about endurance, character and perseverance during some of your greatest difficulties. You are here today. Give thanks for the past.
Second, thanksgiving is peripheral. Take a look around. Give thanks for the people in your life. Find your family and friends and take the time to communicate your appreciation. Be specific about the contribution of others to your life. Frequently, we undervalue the power of encouragement. A simple “thank you” carries more weight than you realize. Give thanks for the blessings you enjoy today.
Finally, thanksgiving is anticipatory. Great leaders have a vision for the future that is infused with hope. Giving thanks for the past and present inspires hope for the future. Hope is absolutely necessary and hope cannot endure without gratitude. Are you thankful for the opportunities that lie before you? Thanksgiving breathes life into your expectations for tomorrow.
At InitiativeOne, we’re thankful for the opportunities we have to make a difference in leaders. Visit us today at http://www.initiative-one.com/executive-coaching/