Before You Forget, Stop and Do This Immediately

Have you ever met a truly humble person– someone who’s entire life is a sacrificial commitment to a cause they deeply believe in? As I spoke with Sister Louise in Thailand about her 50-year commitment to helping women and children out of extreme poverty and danger, I was blown away by her selfless mission.

Although she’s Catholic, her focus is not about a conversion of her 95% Buddhist community–it’s about “saving (with a little “s”) lost sheep.”

She just wants to give as many women and children as possible a shot at an empowered life.

And she and her teams are transforming lives. She’s Winning more Well than I could ever hope to.

I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m so haunted by the story she shared when I asked her what was the most challenging part of her work.

She didn’t miss a beat. And her answer surprised me.

There Was This One Time

There was a woman who had come to us for help many times. We worked with her on skills like hairdressing and sewing, but she struggled. She would give up, quit, and then come back.

Several times we just gave her money to get her out of a jam. We didn’t give up.

And then one day after being gone for quite a while, she came back to us and she proudly showed me a stack of money she had earned.

Relieved, I said “Oh you must be so grateful for this blessing.”

And then she screamed at me, “THANKFUL? BLESSING?  I DID THIS ALL BY MYSELF!!!!”

Sister Louise looked at me with tears in her eyes, “Can you imagine? How could she not see all the people who had worked so hard to help her? To be grateful to those who didn’t give up?”

Sister Louise had no expectations that this sheep would believe in God, but held out hope for a little gratitude for the work of his “hands and feet” in the form of her volunteers.

And there she stood, arguably the most humble human I’ve ever met– dumbfounded by the lack of a simple expression of gratitude.

Everyone needs to hear that they are making a difference.

Who Do You Need to Thank?

When we’re working really hard, it’s so easy to delude ourselves into thinking we did it all by ourselves.

I hear it all the time “I EARNED this promotion.” “I WORKED MY BUTT off to get here.”

I’ll admit. I’ve said those words.

But the truth is, none of us got here on our own– no matter how hard we worked.

There are managers and teachers and parents and peers who all helped in some way. There’s even the boss you hated, that finally convinced you that you weren’t as strong as you thought you were…and you worked harder to prove her wrong.

Who helped you today? Last week? Last quarter?

Who had an INSPIRE conversation that made an impact? Who helped become more confident? Who consistently takes the time to sweat the small stuff so you don’t have to?

What if you stopped right now and said thank you?

Thanks

Frontline Festival: Questions of Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is all about giving thanks at work. We asked contributors to share three areas they are most grateful for at work. But before we go there… how about you? What are you most thankful for at work? 

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, during a time of unrest for much of America, I invite you to take a deep breath and reflect. What are you most grateful for at work? And if your answer is a who, why not take a moment to tell them?

  • Who has inspired you to be more than you ever thought possible?
  • What challenges have you faced that transformed you in ways you never dreamed of?
  • What have you been able to contribute that’s made an impact you’re proud of?
  • What opportunities have you been given to stretch and grow?
  • Who pushed you past your comfort zone?
  • Who are your key collaborators and what do you most appreciate about their approach?

Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about preparing your team for the new year.   Submit your blog posts and answers related to this question: What are you doing to prepare your team for 2017? here!

Now on to our festival of thankfulness:

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute believes gratitude will determine your organization’s altitude. She is thankful for receiving the blessing of the vision for Planting People Growing Justice, their team of visionary leaders, and the thousands of community members who are advancing the shared vision of #LeadershipforSocialJustice. Follow Artika.  

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates is thankful for the opportunity to get to know and learn from a wide variety of people. Because she work with many different groups and she interviews them in advance, she learns about their industry and she learns leadership and management tips.  It’s a great way to stay fresh and interested in others. Follow Shelley

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited is thankful for a successful first full year completely on her own in business, the freedom and flexibility owning a business offers, and the consistent opportunity it affords to learn and grow as a leader and person. Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership is thankful for the amazing men and women who are his clients and who make it possible for him to make a living doing something he loves to do. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC says that “In a world of chaos, gratitude is my go-to place for comfort.” Follow Michelle.

David Dye of Trailblaze is thankful to work with amazing people to make the world a better place; to see people become their best version of themselves; to be around people – friends, colleagues, partners, encouragers. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture lists: business owners and leaders who engage in creating purposeful, positive, productive work cultures; my “business band,” the players of EXCEPTIONAL EXPERTISE & GRACE that help keep my brand crisp, clear, and relevant every day; my family and friends who laugh at my jokes, hug back, and push me to be better every day. Follow Chris.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group states that “2016 has been a year of growth and learning.”  He’s grateful for his clients who express a willingness to grow and go places they never thought possible; his amazing team who put their hearts, heads, and guts into their work every day and Thanksgiving tradition: the Annual Celebration of Grandma Elsie, Her Famous #PumpkinChiffonPie & Other Recipes Follow David.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
~ Oprah Winfrey

Chip Bell of the Chip Bell Group is grateful for:  1. Passion–a wonderful gift from the Almighty 2. Weaving Influence for making me look important  3. Granddaughters for reminding me what is important  Follow Chip.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  is thankful to be able to work remotely and make a living doing what he enjoys and believes provides value to his clients. Follow John.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen shares that having been forced by life events to be home with an elderly and infirm relative, she is thankful that our current professional world provides opportunities to work flexibly. She’s grateful that technology helps us do our work more quickly, with less error, and finally for the people who make the work worth doing! Follow Paula.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog expresses her thanks for 1) Witnessing clients growing and evolving (and having fun along the way); 2) Learning from clients and colleagues and 3) getting to do what I love and absolutely believe in. Follow Lisa.

If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.
~ W. Clement Stone

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer shares “The first wealth is health. Love trumps hate. Meaningful work exudes gratitude.” Follow Eileen

Frontline Festival: Leaders Share about the Power of Gratitude

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our November Festival is all about gratitude. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

karin hurt and david dye talk winning wellNext month, in celebration of the launch of the new Star Wars: the Force Awakens movie we’re going to give you two options. You’re welcome to submit your “best of” post of 2015. Or, if you want to try something a bit more edgy, try writing a Star Wars Inspired Post. Please submit your links here.

A Parade of Gratitude

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares how to write a thank you note they will thank YOU for. Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership reminds us that gratitude is good for you, but an attitude of gratitude is not enough. You get maximum benefits if you spread it around. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC reminds us that gratitude is a state of mind and encourages us to celebrate the energy of gratitude. So, how can we actively invoke gratitude? Follow Michelle.

Whether you lead a multinational company, a human-service nonprofit, a team of three engineers trying to solve a stubborn problem, are a parent, or a community volunteer, in your role as a leader you give and receive truly significant gifts nearly every day of the year. David Dye of Trailblaze  provides motivation, encouragement, and inspiration in this list of forty-five leadership gifts you can both give and receive. Follow David.

Henna Inam of Transformational Leadership says that gratitude is a leadership practice. Here are three benefits of gratitude in the workplace and five ways to practice so it becomes a mind-set that creates resilience, engagement, and productivity. Follow Henna.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy

Barbara Kimmel of Trust Across America asks, “Do you want people to trust you?” A bit of gratitude never hurts!  Follow Barbara.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting advises that to inspire others and cultivate an environment of collaboration with both their teams and customers, honoring these four L’s of Leadership can be so impactful. One of the L’s is Love, demonstrating the power of showing appreciation and gratitude. When leaders show empathy and respect for each team member’s perspective, they are embodying the L of Love. Follow Terri. 

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog   presents “Making Thanksgiving a Leadership Skill” where she shares six meaningful tips for making Thanksgiving a year-round leadership practice and reaping greater benefits. Follow Robyn.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com says, “A smile changes everything. A thank you makes the connection. Your behavior changes the world. Lead On!” Follow Michelle.

According to LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that mental toughness is how you manage your thoughts, behavior, and emotions in ways that will set you up for success and includes the powerful element of gratitude. Whether you’re investigating the activities of a foreign spy, trying to navigate the politics of your work environment, or starting a new business—mental toughness requires keeping in shape to meet the challenges you will be facing.  Follow LaRae.

Willy Steiner from Executive Coaching Concepts explains why gratitude is not just a way to be appreciative, but it’s good for us physically and emotionally as well. He also reflects on some simple techniques for taking advantage of these benefits on a regular basis, making being thankful a habit. Follow Willy.

John Stoker of Dialogue WORKS asks how we can put THANKS in our Thanksgiving, giving tips on how to be more thankful and help others in the process. Follow John.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute shares that gratitude is about expressing appreciation. Service provides an opportunity to express gratitude by giving back and making a difference. Follow Artika.

In Gratitude

This month, I’m deeply grateful for all of you in our LGL community, and for my amazing clients and team. It’s wonderful to work with kindred spirits, passionate about not only winning, but winning well– without crushing hearts and spirits in the process.

Thank you to Beth Beutler, my wonderful strategic assistant and a role model of confident humility. Megan Constantino, Becky Robinson and the team at Weaving Influence for their strategic and passionate approach to spreading my message around the world. My talented creative team at Red Jacket West, who say YES! to all my wild ideas and execute elegantly as we work to make real leadership development more accessible to those with smaller budgets. My Winning Well co-author and daily inspiration, David Dye, , and the wonderful team at the AMACOM who have made our book stronger while supporting us along the way. My wonderful family, and so many more on the extended LGL team.  Namaste and thank you.

The True Story Of Thanksgiving

“That’s not my Thanksgiving story,” Sam confided as we watched the joyous reunions of families with kids returning from college.

“I came home from college to find my room now had a crib with a new baby. My bed had been moved to the unfinished basement. The message was clear. I never came back, and my mom was fine with that. She moved on.”

His heartbreaking story stands in stark contrast to his life today. He’s an amazing guy with a cool wife, interesting and well-adjusted kids, and a successful business.

“To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.”
~ Victor Hugo

His sad Thanksgiving story reads differently when you ask him for the other side. That narrative is a story of self-reliance, triumph, and gutsy determination. From that lens, his anger and resentment fueled his passion to build a great family and meaningful friendships. I don’t know his mom’s story, but it’s complex too. Narratives find gratitude in the midst of pain.

The True Story of Thanksgiving

All versions are true. All real. All powerful. We all have Thanksgiving chapters we would rather have skipped. Stories of pain. Stories of building fortitude.

The Thanksgiving
  • after the diagnosis
  • mid-divorce
  • during the layoff
  • in Iraq
  • alone
  • of the accident
  • when you’re just not breaking through
  • our kids were in trouble

Those stories have multiple narrations. It’s hard to feel the growing, when the growing is tough. But it’s there. Every member of your team has stories too, and interpretations.

I wish for you a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude in the midst of your complicated story. May your leadership have the patience to build on great stories. As you turn the page, consider the best narration for all involved.

Namaste.

Grateful For Gratitude: November Frontline Festival

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, November’s Frontline Festival is about forms of Gratitude. I am grateful for my amazing colleagues and subscribers for your contributions and comments. Please comment at the bottom of this post, as we celebrate our gratitude together: What are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving?

How to Give Thanks and Praise

Frank SonnenbergFrank Sonnenberg Online, offers Ways to Say You Care There are many ways to say that you care. This free, downloadable poster provide some clever examples. Follow Frank @FSonnenberg.

Matt McWilliams, Life. Leadership. Love. Learned the Hard Way, brings us How to Write a Thank You Note  The title says it all. Some people are intimidated by writing great thank you notes…but Matt will show you how. In fact, Matt is offering a free ebook on Gratitude. Follow Matt @MattMcWilliams2.

Dan McCarthy, Great Leadership, shares 10 Questions and Answers for Managers about Praise  “Praise is one of the most misunderstood, powerful, and underutilized management skills. This post is a reenactment of an actual coaching conversation I had with a manager who sincerely wanted to learn how to praise but didn’t have a clue how to do it.” I love this practical and useful list. Follow Dan @greatleadership.

Tanveer NaseerTanveer Naseer Leadership brings us, How Two Simple Words Can Energize Your Team and Grow Your Business “Research has shown that expressing gratitude is not only a nice thing to do, but that it can fuel employee motivation and drive organizational growth.” Follow Tanveer @TanveerNaseer.

New to the festivalJulie Pierce, Empowered by Pierce, offers  5 Simple Ways to Thank Your Team People are blown away by simple expressions of praise, affirmation and gratitude. This post offers five simple ways to thank your hard-working team. Follow Julie @julie_pierce

David Dye, Trailblaze, brings us, Do They Know? If you lead to bring out the best (not wring out the worst), David suggests that everyone is a volunteer and everything your team does is a gift to be received with gratitude. Follow David @davidmdye.

The State of Gratitude

Mary Jo Asmus,Mary Jo Asmus, shares Being in a state of gratitude Some thoughts on the difference between “thanks” and “gratitude”. My favorite line, “Gratitude requires presence and vigilance to notice.” Follow Mary Jo @mjasmus.

Wally Bock, Three Star Leadership, brings us Say “Thank-you” Gratitude is the secret of a happy life. Follow Wally @Wally BockGratitude copy

Joy and Tom GuthrieVizwerx Group, LLC share their wonderful strategic art (right).

Greg Marcus, The Idol Buster shares Be Grateful for the Good and the Bad  Gratitude in times of trouble brings strength, and puts energy towards the solution. I enjoyed the powerful and poignant stories he shares. Follow Greg @gregmarcus2.

Mike Henry Sr, of Lead Change Group offers Gratitude for Weakness Four ideas about how weaknesses make me humble and a better team member. Mike shares a beautiful exercise worth trying this Thanksgiving. Follow Mike @mikehenrysr

Lisa Kohn, of Thoughtful Leaders Blog, brings us I don’t have to be grateful after today…do I? “Drivenness can work against us, where nothing is quite good enough and we’re never satisfied. Lisa offers thoughts and ideas for keeping the Thanks-giving spirit alive even after the holiday is over. Follow Lisa @ThoughtfulLdrs.

Carrie Koens, Carrie’s Busy Nothings, shares Three Years of Thankfulness  “Looking back over 3 years of daily thankfulness, and how it has changed my outlook and my life.” I invited Carrie to join this festival because I’m always inspired by how she shares her gratitude, daily, through social media. Follow Carrie @CGKoens.

Alli Polin, Break the Frame, shares  Ditch the Stress; Choose Gratitude  She shares how 5 minutes can change your frame around gratitude. Follow Alli @AlliPolin

Also a new to the Festival, Regina Verow, Creatively Conscious, shares How To Change The World One Tiny Step At A Time She shares fantastic suggestions on how each us can make a real difference in the world, including “radical gratitude.” Follow Regina @reginaverow

Grateful For Work

Jennifer Miller, The People Equation, shares My At-Work Gratitude List This post puts a spin on the tried-and-true Gratitude List – by bringing it into the workplace. What are you grateful for at work? Follow Jennifer @JenniferVMiller

Julie Winkle Giulioni, Julie Winkle Giulioni, brings us Context Changes Everything This post starts with gratitude and moves on to discuss how when employees understand the bigger context of the workplace, it can change everything – from how they work to how they feel about their work. Follow Julie @julie_wg

Cheri Essner, Cheri’s Blog, shares, My Project Management Sermon “Why PM resonates to me as a global way of renewing empowerment around the world through the use of our practice.” Follow Cheri @cheriessner

Jon Mertz, Thin Difference, offers Democracy: 5 Ways You Can Make It More Meaningful  “Our democracy gives us so much to be grateful for and, in our gratitude, comes a responsibility to do more and participate in meaningful ways.” Follow Jon @ThinDifference

Family Inspired Stories of Gratitude

John Hunter, Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog, shares Respect for Everyone, inspired by his Father. “He made a big difference to people by improving the management system within which they worked, but what they remembered was the face to face respect he showed to everyone.” Follow John @curiouscat_com

Kimunya Mugo, Lead By Choice shares Gratitude – a Leader’s Hallmark At three o’clock in the morning, our 4 years old daughter called out, “Daddy, I want to go to the toilet!” I did my daddy duty… When I was done, she cheerily said to me, “Thank you daddy.” A wonderful reminder of the power of the simple acts of gratitude.  Follow Kimunya @KimunyaMugo

Bill Benoist, Leadership Heart Coaching, shares his poignant post Holidays and Family. “I like to keep these weekly posts about career and leadership, but sometimes we need to remember family too, especially around the holiday season. Not only remember our family, but the families of those we work with.” Follow Bill @leadershipheart

gratitudeThe December Frontline Festival is about Gifts and Giving (open to interpretation). Submissions due December 13th. Click here to submit your post.

Gratitude Parade: Great Posts on Gratitude and Thanksgiving

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, there have been so many great posts on gratitude this month. Today, I offer you links to insights from fellow bloggers on the art of gratitude.

Why Be Grateful?

The Pursuit of Peace: Thanksgiving as a Lifestyle by Andy Tix

Andy Tix shares the positive psychological benefits of gratitude and offers suggestions and examples

“A transformation often occurs when people learn to shift their thoughts from negative to thanksgiving.”

A Slice of Gratitude, by Ryan Setter

Ryan shares how gratitude can be “life changing”

It’s possible for an individual to have spiraled downward into a depression due to a serious lack of appreciation and gratitude. In fact, it’s quite common, and can be quite devastating. Recognizing and being truly grateful for an individuals’ strengths, talents and contributions is sometimes all that it takes to set someone on an upwards path simply by feeling appreciated, feeling that they matter. When someone knows that what they do is important it can be life-changing.

Personal Stories of Gratitude

 A Persistent Feeling of Frailty, By Dan Rockwell

A poignant post by Dan Rockwell, he shares reflections from a year after his serious accident.

“People did things for me that I couldn’t do for myself. I feel the frailty, even now. But there’s more. Gratitude persists. Compassion drips in the back of my mind.

Cancer, Abundance, and the Heart of True Thanksgiving, By Michele Cushatt

Michele Cushatt shares her journey through Cancer and the vital reminders of the power of true Thanksgiving.

“Because Thanksgiving, true Thanksgiving, is pulling up a chair to the table of your life as it is, even with all its struggle and imperfection, and choosing to close your eyes and savor its uncommon, undeserved abundance.”

How to Be Grateful

Thanksgiving: Gratitude Even For the Hard Stuff, By Randy Taran

Randy, shares some approaches for learning from life’s most challenging times.

It can take some time, acceptance and inner stillness to even ask these questions. When we’re caught in the escalating tornado of emotions, it’s hard to have perspective. But by looking back, everything becomes clearer. Clarity gives birth to peace. Another aspect is self-compassion. Consider replacing “If I had only ” with “I did my best under the circumstances.” That’s part of the lesson, too.

On Leadership and Expressing Gratitude, By Aditi Chopra

Aditi Chopra writes “Remember that people, who are constantly expressing gratitude to others, tend to be happier in life. And, it makes them someone worth following ” She shares a useful list of ways to express gratitude:

  • One can express gratitude subtly by returning a favor.
  • A more explicit way of expressing gratitude is to praise someone in public for what they did for you.
  • Giving someone a thoughtful gift or a greeting card is another way to thank them. Putting some thought into what they would like as a gift works wonders.
  • If someone has unconsciously been nice to you because of their very nature, don’t let that go unnoticed. Make sure to mention to them how much you appreciate their giving nature. More importantly, don’t abuse it by taking it for granted.
  • If your mentor spends a lot of time with you in coaching, one way to thank them is by being mindful of how much and what you ask them. Being aware of how much time you ask them to spend with you, you are being respectful and grateful.

I am grateful for these inspiring thought leaders and the insights they offer.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Grateful Gone Missing? In Search of Gratitude

This month many folks I know are participating in the Facebook Daily Gratitude Challenge. They are posting “something for which they are truly grateful” each day.

My friend Lisa wrote, “I am grateful for gratitude.”

Ah, I thought, now that is something to consider.

What is grateful?

What does it mean to be truly grateful?

How does gratitude change us?

Why must leaders be grateful?

What are you most grateful for?

As leaders, we spend much time on “thanks for passing the gravy” kind of thanks.

  • …thanks for this report
  • …thanks for the update
  • …thanks for coming to work on time
  • …thanks for returning my call
  • …thanks for dinner

Those courtesies are important and necessary. But they are not gratitude.

Most organizations also do a pretty good job with formal recognition— taking time to determine who deserves the plaque and celebration. These ceremonies can surely come from a place of deep gratitude, but not necessarily. Often, they are based on numbers and rankings. Gratitude doesn’t come from spreadsheets.

Gratitude involves a deeper pause of true thanksgiving. I see this missing at many levels in organizations.

Grateful is missing when,

an executive hears a presentation and immediately responds with questions, concerns, critiques and challenges, without a pause to consider the depth and breadth of work entailed, the long hours, and the creative thinking.

a middle manager is frustrated in his current role, but overlooks his long career of exciting challenges and developmental experiences

a team leader acknowledges the team’s steady progress, but fails to understand the deep personal sacrifices of her team

a team member resents the promotion of a coworker, and overlooks all the ways he has grown himself in the past year

an employee didn’t receive the same tee-shirt as the guy in the next cube, and overlooks all the ways her family is benefiting from her job

a volunteer feels slighted by a decision, and misses the magic of being part of something important in the community

???

Thanks and recognition are about the receiver. As leaders, it is our job to say thank you and recognize good work.

Gratitude is also about the giver. Gratitude can transform our leadership.