Written by Jess Faulks
Think for a moment, have you ever been thankful for a person, a place or event that occurred? And think again, did you ever find a way to express that thankfulness?
As leaders life can throw us inevitable challenges, these challenges often block the path to thankfulness. However, when overwhelm strikes, gratitude provides a perspective that removes feelings of being consumed by temporary circumstances that drag us down. The most effective leaders use the power of gratitude to boost morale, and cultivate a positive culture for all (including self) to feel empowered and appreciated. As leaders’ success should not be about the size of our team, or the size of our badge, but about the size of our hearts. Let’s not make it about gratification, but gratitude.
The gift of gratitude provides the perfect platform to enhance empathy, improve self-esteem, and contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing not just for your community, but for yourself too. A simple shift in perspective can broaden your perception on life, turning problems into possibilities and irritation into curiosity. Indeed, it’s the everyday moments that matter most. That’s where the true goodness and many gifts of gratitude thrive.
Today is International Day of Gratitude, a day that acts as a perfect reminder to reflect and give the gift of thankfulness. Here are five simple ways as leaders, we can sprinkle gratitude throughout our communities today and every day…
1. Share your Gratitude
For many, it is easy to think about the things or people we are grateful for in our minds, however when you share the gift of gratitude with others, it creates space for empathy, love, and acceptance, which in turn allows others to (hopefully) experience that same gratitude you feel, if not more. Set yourself a goal to either message, text or call, perhaps even write a ‘thanks for’ card to someone you are grateful for at least once a week.
2. Cultivate a habit of gratitude
Gratitude is like a muscle, it can be developed—the more you use it, the more powerful it becomes. It’s easy to go through the motions of life focusing on what we want, rather than what we have. However, by implementing a daily practice of gratitude in your leadership team or classroom, you begin to find small pockets of gratitude in everyday life. Try asking teammates or students to thank each other at the end of a class or meeting, create more opportunity for recognition and thanks weekly, and/or ask team members one thing they are grateful for in their working world at the start of a meeting or a lesson.
3. Share gratitude through the receivers love language
We all know a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way, however, why not take an authentic approach when expressing gratitude. To achieve this, focus on personalising your acts of gratitude each day. The five love languages are great ways to express love in a way that ‘speaks’ to the receiver of gratitude.
4. Celebrate the small wins
Gratitude is not always about celebrating the huge milestones; it is about recognising the little moments along the way. If you’re struggling and all you did today was show up, be proud. Life can be tough but be kind to yourself and remind yourself and your team, of the incredible things you achieve. To celebrate these small wins as a leader in a team or a classroom you can: a) Place a piece of butchers paper on the wall and ask team members to write their weekly small wins b) On Thankful Thursdays ask your team what three things they are celebrating this week c) Have a gratitude jar that is accessible for team members to write highlight moments in over the term and then read them out loud at an end of term celebration.
5. Give gratitude back to you
To keep your personal compass for gratitude pointing in the right direction, we need to take the time to personally refuel our energy. To give generously of ourselves and show our appreciation to others, we absolutely need downtime to stop, reflect, refuel, and redirect. A simple walk in the sun, or a moment away from technology is sometimes all you need to regain perspective. What is something you can do to give gratitude back to you?
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and never giving it – this is your reminder to give those gifts more often, not just today on World Gratitude Day, but every day.