Gratitude, at times, seems to be at odds with our consumerist culture. While society tells us we should always be striving for more, more, and yes—more—never to be satisfied, gratitude tells us that we should give thanks for the things we already have. We should, in fact, be content with it.
Gratitude is the recognition that the good things that we have are not owed to us. Be it our loved ones, material things, health, or wealth. If we have it, we’re thankful for it, because we know it can be gone in an instant. Cicero called gratitude the “queen of virtues.” Famed deaf teacher Jean Massieu poetically called it “the memory of the heart.”
As leaders in business, those of us with professional ambition, gratitude should be chief among our qualities. While it may seem counterproductive to growth, it, in fact, equips us to excel beyond what we can imagine.
4 Ways Gratitude Empowers Leadership
1) It gives perspective to failures.
Gratitude transforms your whole perspective. You would be surprised just how much it can change your thinking! When we’re grateful, we can look at everything in a new light. Take failure, for example. When we’re already thankful for what we have, we tend to look for the good. We don’t take things for granted. So even when things go awry, we know better than to throw a pity party or complain. We know that failures can be opportunities for growth and good experience. Not a defeat.
2) It heightens happiness.
It’s proven in studies that grateful people are just happier. Gratitude is linked to higher levels of satisfaction, motivation, and energy. People who are grateful sleep better. They have better energy and are healthier. They’re less stressed and less sad. They have a more developed sense of purpose and place in the world. Gratitude also fosters a sense of optimism. The benefits are endless!
3) You seek success.
One element of gratitude is the ability to actually enjoy success. When we’re grateful, we can actually take the time to stop and appreciate all that we have accomplished. We’re not caught up in gaining more all the time—we can stop and enjoy what we have, right now, without feeling the constant need to push forward. At the same time, stopping to enjoy success motivates us to seek it, too. It gives us the clear vision to chase after the success that we truly value.
4) You motivate your team.
Nothing raises morale like recognition. When your team feels valued and appreciated, they are more likely to work that much harder to accomplish great things for you. Gratitude tends to trickle down. If the boss is grateful for his employees, the employees will appreciate their jobs and the customers. Customers who feel appreciated will be much happier to continue patronizing your business. It works all around!
Being openly grateful to those who work with and for you also helps prevent fatigue, resentment, and work dissatisfaction. If you want happy workers, let them know how much you appreciate what they do.
So How Do I Become More Grateful?
There are a few ways that leaders can foster a spirit of gratitude in their daily lives. It takes a consistent effort, but if you put these into practice every day, you’ll find your gratefulness growing:
- Write down the little things. Grab a stack of post-it notes. Every day, make a point to write something that you’re grateful for and stick it where you can see it. They can be big or small. Maybe you’re grateful that a meeting went well. Maybe you’re grateful that you had time to spend with your family. Grateful for a good lunch. You can be thankful for events, people, things in your life—anything! Just find things every day to be grateful for and write down those reminders.
- Say it. One of the big ways you can not only feel gratitude but spread it is to verbalize your gratefulness to others. Tell your partner how much they mean to you. Let your kids know how glad you are that they’re in your life. Tell your employees that you’re grateful to have them on the team. Appreciate people in your life, and start that habit of saying thank you, whether it’s for being a constant support or for serving you a meal.
A spirit of gratitude isn’t just about good feelings: it’s proven time and time again to not only improve our lives in measurable ways, but improve our professional endeavors as well. If you want to achieve greatness, start with gratitude.