Gratitude and Appreciation: A November Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is about thankfulness. 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 your best of 2017.  Submit your best blog post of the year here!

WHY GRATITUDE IS IMPORTANT

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights  shares three steps to boost your thanksgiving quotient and 17 different benefits for a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude is one of the best ways to increase your success in the coming year. Follow Skip.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership gives us a look at how expressing gratitude can help leaders bring out the best in those they lead and drive their organizations to succeed. Follow Tanveer.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING GRATEFUL FOR PEOPLE

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement is thankful for the insight provided by his father on how to provide value through your work.  He says, “It seems to me we often neglect to appreciate how important it is for people to take pride in their work.  He gave me an early appreciation that while there are many factors influencing our decisions as we proceed through our careers, it is critical to do work that you are proud of.” Follow John.

Rachel Blakely of Patriot Software reminds us that during the holiday season and beyond, it’s important to step back and think about what you’re grateful for in your business. This year, let your customers know you’re thankful for them with these five tipsFollow Rachel.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates recounts when a plane full of passengers erupted in appreciative applause.  Follow Shelley

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen mentions thanks for the teachers in our lives, including people who “taught” us outside the classroom. They appreciate hearing our expressions of gratitude, even if quite a bit of time has elapsed. This is a note she wrote to a teacher decades after a meaningful incident. Follow Paula.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding shares five reasons thankfulness is more than child’s playFollow Chery.

APPROACHES FOR BEING MORE GRATEFUL

“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou

According to Sean Glaze of Great Results Teambuilding, a constant focus on what is missing, what needs to get better, where the flaws are, can turn aspirations into frustrations. As a coach,  manager, principal, or leader in any arena, rather than seeing the hole, we should step back more often to appreciate the doughnut. We should find things to be grateful for. In just five minutes over seven days, you can completely change your focus and impact. Follow Sean.

According to Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership, Gratitude is good for you, but an “attitude of gratitude is not enough. You get maximum benefits if you spread it around.  Follow Wally.

In the post, Making Thanksgiving a Leadership Skill, Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares that we can reap greater benefits by making “giving thanks” a year-round leadership practice.  Follow Robyn.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader shares that we can appreciate leadership in many forms, but true leadership of positive influence on others is what it’s really all about. Follow Paul

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shares his Thanksgiving tradition: Grandma Elsie’s Chiffon Pie– and celebrates her generous spirit every holiday season. Follow David.

Chip Bell of Chip Bell Group is grateful for PASSION!! Without it, life would become plain vanilla, greatness would become mediocrity, and commitment would become complacency. In the words of English novelist E.M. Forster, “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” Follow Chip.

According to Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC,  gratitude is a state of mind when you allow it to be. Gratitude is not a natural state. Consider two toddlers in the same room with a fistful of goodies. Often, they will want what the other one has too! This description derives from a selfish desire for survival that is hard-wired into us. We must make a choice for a different state of mind.  Follow Michelle.

The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” William James

Ken Downer of Rapid Start Leadership shares: An attitude of gratitude can provide lots of benefits, like increased happiness, improved health, and even a better night’s sleep. Here are eight things you can do today to make life better, both for you, and those around you, by focusing on what you have, instead of what you don’t. Follow Ken

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited suggests that a good mindset about giving/receiving revolves around forgetting what you give and remembering what you receive.  Follow Beth.

WHAT TO DO WHEN IT’S HARD

Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership reminds us that the holiday season can be difficult for many people, but it’s still possible to feel joy and gratitude in stressful times… which is good for your physical and mental health. She gives us three steps to access gratitude when you’re feeling stressed. Follow Jesse.

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer asks, “Do you ever have a moment when the world feels upside down and you are stressed or sick?” Eileen shares how the little things in life can give us pleasure even when we’re under the weather!  Follow Eileen.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture reminds us that while civility and respect is not demonstrated daily in many of our homes, neighborhoods, or workplaces, now is the time to begin being thankful and kind in every interaction. The choice is ours.  Follow Chris.

How about you? What are you most thankful for? How do you keep a grateful approach?

7 Reasons to Be A Little More Grateful At Work (Reflections and an Exercise)

With all the stress and pressure, sometimes it feels really hard to cultivate a feeling of gratitude at work.  You might feel stuck. Or passed over. Or taken advantage of. Or just wanting someone to say “thank you” for all you’re doing–for goodness sakes.

Or _____________________ (it’s okay, let it out first). Life it tricky. Gratitude is never simple. The situation could always be better.

But this week, I encourage you to consider this question. What are you truly grateful for at work?

7 Reasons I’m Grateful at Work 

First, let me start here (because sometimes people think this looks easy). Starting up a business is tricky, with ups and downs. I’ve got my fair share of the fill-in-the-blank concerns.

But I choose gratitude. Here are a few of mine.

I encourage you to play along and share your top 7 (or even one or two).

  1. Partnership
    Hands down the magic of 2016 for which I’m most grateful is my expanded partnership with my co-author, David Dye.  Finding the right partner makes all the difference. If you don’t yet have a friend like this in your life, I encourage you to find someone who will challenge you, encourage you, tell you that you are wonderful, and help you work on your flaws. My biggest gratitude of 2016 is for this real deal partnership in work and in life.
  2. Mistakes
    A few times, I’ve rolled the dice big and lost. I trusted the wrong people, bet on the wrong collaboration. And yet, I’m still grateful for playing full out. More bets have gone right than wrong. And now I’m entering the next phase a little more well informed.
  3. Our Team
    This year we couldn’t have scaled the way we did without our amazing team. What I love best is how they work together, even when we’re off speaking or consulting… they’re holding down the fort and passionately working to advance the Winning Well mission. Beth, Vickie, Megan, Amy, Paul, Chris W, Chris H, Doug, Sean et al, and of course, Sebastian and countless others who’ve helped along the way. We are grateful for you.
  4. Collaboration
    We have an army of kindred spirits whom we believe in and who believe in the work we do. I am deeply grateful for the leaders around the world we’ve had a pleasure to work with in their businesses or ours–speakers, consultants, journalists, bloggers, podcasters, family and friends who are doing all taking action to blend the bottom line with the human spirit.
  5. Stretching
    First, I’m so grateful for the many folks who’ve worked to convince their bosses that Winning Well was right for their organizations. They bet on the ROI and it proved out. I’m also so grateful for the stretching you have caused me to do. “Can you do this?” “How can you challenge us in this way?” I continue to grow because of all of you.
  6. Progress
    When David and I were writing Winning Well, this was our theme song. Inch by inch… row by row… it’s a constant reminder for both us (or at least one of us, reminding the other of us when we hit a setback). When we can be truly grateful for the milestones and the progress and enjoy the journey, it makes all the difference.
  7. Learning
    Every time we do a program I have two emotions… How did we serve? And what could I do better? This year has been a tremendous journey of learning and improving. Which stories had the biggest impact? Which tools? Where should I have challenged more? I’m grateful for every single client with us along this journey.

Our recent Frontline Festival gave contributors a chance to give thanks. 

What Is Gratitude?

True gratitude begins wtih deep humility.

True gratitude changes us.

True gratitude transforms our relationships.

True gratitude changes the game.

Courtesies Aren’t Gratitude

And yet, 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.

Recognition Isn’t 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.

Gratitude 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. True gratitude will transform our leadership.

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.

Thanksgiving Grace and Grappling: Growing Beyond Easy

Today I offer my grace of thanksgiving for all that I have been given. I also whisper a humble grace for the messy work that is helping me to become.

May you too be blessed in your grappling this Thanksgiving.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanksgiving Grace

Today I am deeply grateful for…

  • My caring husband who believes in possibilities
  • My children who amaze me with their insights, caring hearts and contributions
  • My extended family and pit crew who make my work possible
  • My creative and tenacious team who accomplished what most believed could not be done
  • An opening heart leading to deepening relationships
  • A social media infrastructure that makes it possible for me to collaborate with leaders from around the world
  • Amazing new connections now growing into friends, mentors and supporters
  • Saying yes

Thanksgiving Grappling

But also surprisingly grateful for..

  • Time stuck in airports
    … giving me time to think
  • Realizing my strengths have downsides
    … which is forcing me to fine-tune
  • Feeling a bit stuck
    … which is causing me to consider
  • Choices that ticked me off
    ….which reaffirmed my values
  • Being too busy
    … which is forcing me to prioritize
  • Friends and colleagues who are grappling too
    … so we can work on this junk together

Gratitude is tricky.

It’s easy to feel full of thanksgiving for the good parts. It’s a bit harder to feel grateful for the messy and uncomfortable aspects of our lives.

Perhaps that’s exactly the work for which we should be most grateful.

May you find a strange peace and joy in your grappling this Thanksgiving.

Namaste.

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.