THE VALUE OF GRATITUDE

 

At the end of a recent coaching call a client shared with me a brief yet beautiful moment he had with his 18-month-old daughter.

After a long day at the office he climbed the stairs of his home to where his little girl stood waiting for him. As soon as she saw her father, her entire being lit up with joy and she smiled from ear to ear! For my client that brief moment of connection was a gift and I could hear in his voice a deep undercurrent of gratitude.

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It makes us feel good, and it makes those around us feel good too.

But gratitude is more than a feel-good emotion. It is a powerful talent that enables us to be better leaders, managers and parents.

Gratitude enables us to be better
leaders, managers and parents

And it is a talent that can be cultivated.

If you already excel at gratitude and its’ corollary, thanking, give yourself an A plus!

If you are like the rest of us and could use a little improvement in the gratitude department, read on to see just how important this talent is to both your health and you leadership.

Gratitude, like all human emotions and moods, predisposes us to certain actions and behaviors. When we bring a spirit of gratitude to our relationships, we see more clearly the contributions of our employees, colleagues and family members. We awaken to the fact that our success is as much a product of their contributions as it is a result of our own individual efforts. And having seen this, we are more likely to express our heart-felt appreciation to them.

This can make all the difference.

A recent study by the Gallup organization shows that only about 25% of U.S. workers are deeply engaged by their leaders. Employees not feeling appreciated or valued by their managers was the reason most often cited for their lack of engagement.

Only about 25% of U.S. workers are
deeply engaged by their leaders

It turns out that being appreciated is a fundamental human need. Too often it goes unmet at work and we are less productive and committed as a result.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As we take the time to notice the contributions of others and express sincere gratitude to them, an enormous wellspring of energy and commitment is unleashed. People simply work harder and give more of themselves for people who value them.

But the benefits of gratitude don’t stop there. In addition to unleashing the discretionary energy of those we lead, gratitude does wonders for us personally.

Recent research reveals that gratitude helps us to feel happier, contributes to our health and well being, and makes us more resilient in the face of change and uncertainty.

It turns out that being appreciated
is a fundamental human need

In one study, participants were divided into three groups to determine what affect a daily practice of gratitude might have on their outlook and well being. One group was asked to briefly describe each night five things they were grateful for that day. Another group was asked to do the opposite – they recorded a list of daily hassles and annoyances. The third group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them that day, but were not told to accentuate the positive or negative aspects of those circumstances.

After ten weeks those who jotted down their blessings each night reported getting more hours of sleep, spent less time awake before falling asleep and felt more refreshed upon awakening than the other two groups. They also reported feeling better about their lives as a whole, were more optimistic about the future and had fewer symptoms of physical illness. Perhaps most surprising of all, the participants in the “gratitude” condition spent significantly more time exercising (nearly 1.5 hours more per week) than those in the hassles condition.

People simply work harder and give more
of themselves for people who value them

So, next time you need a boost of positive energy, you may want to pause to reflect on the gifts you are grateful for. In particular, consider the people around you for whom you are most grateful -- the employees who are helping you to succeed, the friends that enrich your life, or the family members who bring you joy.

If your reflection enables you to more clearly see the contributions of others, write a note, send an email, or have a conversation and tell at least one of those people exactly how they have made a difference in your life. Turn this practice into a ritual that you do on a regular basis, and you (and your employees) will be happier, healthier and more engaged.

Not to mention, you may sleep better too!

Reflections:

  1. What are the gifts I have received in life for which I am most grateful?
  2. Who has made a positive difference in my work? In my life?
  3. When was the last time I told them just how grateful I am?
  4. Who will I thank today, and how?


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