Gratitude is a verb

Gratitude is a verb

An election always results in more than just a new president. It’s a race so, inevitably, some of us feel like winners and some of us feel defeated. There are unanswered questions and varying opinions. Let’s not get lost in those. Regardless of who you supported last week, let’s put aside our differences, and talk about how to be thankful through gratitude.

Gratitude is more than giving thanks

Traditionally, November is the time of year we are asked, “What are you thankful for?” As kids, we drew pictures of our pets or favorite toys. On Thanksgiving, we said, “my family,” “my job,” or “this food,” before passing the turkey. But, talk is cheap. Giving thanks has become an item on a to-do list, or a hashtag and photo posted on Facebook. We say it in passing, but we never really follow-through.

Instead, gratitude is a way of engaging others in being thankful and creating a lasting impact.

So what’s the difference? Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frederic Amiel said, “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”

Don’t just follow the tradition this year, pass it on to others.

Lead with a spirit of gratitude

Instead of just saying ‘thank you’ on your way to a meeting, write a note to your co-workers stating how they individually add value to the team. Instead of just sending a generic thank-you email to your staff, take them bowling or out to lunch so you can personally, and specifically, thank them face-to-face. Simple acts of gratitude often costs little to nothing, but can result in major ROI.

Be an agent of change

People who are shown gratitude feel valued, and are more likely to pass that act on in the office, and in the community. Gratitude elicits a positive response to challenges, and creates a sustainable culture of motivation. Take the Starbucks drive-through as an example. The person in front of you buys your coffee, so you buy it for next customer. It made you feel good, so you pass it on. Gratitude at its finest. This may be a simple example, but imagine gratitude on a larger scale. How will your employees perform if gratitude is part of your leadership approach? As a country, we may not know how to solve all the issues today. But, how could acts of gratitude shorten that list?

As we enter the holiday season, think about why gratitude is important. To me, it’s a genuine way of giving thanks. It’s personal. It eases fears, answers questions and builds relationships. It’s contagious, in a good way. They say strength lies in numbers, and I believe positive change does too.