Gratitude Challenge: Thank at least one person every day for 21 days.

It had been a particularly hard week. I don’t remember the details of my problems (you seldom do) but I was having a hard time going to sleep because of “Oops” “Should not have” “WOW-didn’t see that coming” and other negative thoughts swarming my mind like bees swarm their hive.

Then I an image came to my mind of a book cover a man was carrying as he filed through the narrow isle to his seat behind me on the plane. The cover was black with white letters that read: “It’s not that happy people are grateful, it’s that grateful people are happy.”

You are happy because you are grateful-not the other way around~Karla Brandau

“Grateful people are happy” is the phrase that stuck in my mind and as I tossed and turned and I had the distinct impression that I should concentrate on what I could be grateful for – I should count my blessings. I resisted and then started thinking of the people in my life that I loved and for which I was very grateful.

Next I tried to find something positive – anything to be grateful for – in the negatives that overwhelmed my day. I was grateful my “Oops” was not worse. I erased the “Should not have” with “I made the best decision I could at that moment in time.” And the “WOW-didn’t see that coming” I replaced with “What a learning opportunity.” 

Gradually my mind was at rest and I fell asleep, appreciating the gifts of the moment.

The Science of Gratitude

The phenomenon and power of gratitude has attracted scholarly researchers, including Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis. As one of the leading scholars in the scientific study of gratitude, he said the following:

It is possible that psychology has ignored gratitude because it appears, on the surface, to be a very obvious emotion, lacking in interesting complications: we receive a gift—from friends, from family, from God—and then we feel pleasurably grateful. But while the emotion seemed simplistic even to me as I began my research, I soon discovered that gratitude is a deeper, more complex phenomenon that plays a critical role in human happiness. Gratitude is literally one of the few things that can measurably change people’s lives.

Through scientific study, Dr. Emmons and other researchers have documented what the title of the book stated: Grateful people are happy.

Said in a little different way, David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk penned these words: “It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast~It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.

Gratitude at Work

If gratitude can turn your life from unhappy to happy, do you think it would work in your company? I believe it can. Typically humans focus on:

  • Annoyances – will Mr. Honk in the next cubicle stop coughing?
  • Injustices – I didn’t get assigned to that project and I really wanted to work on it
  • Problems – the software keep crashing
  • Barriers – management has not allotted enough money for this project

What if instead you focused on:

  • Honk got his part of the project to me right on time…Don’t take it for granted…
  • Thank you for not putting me on that project. I need extra time to finish the year-end closeout. I will have time to help with the United Way campaign.
  • I’m grateful for this opportunity to get under the hood of this software and find out why we are having problems.
  • I’ll study this project and look for ways to conserve funds.

Turning your thoughts from annoyances and injustices to gratitude will change your perspectives and your work life.

The Charismatic Leader’s Gratitude Challenge

The opportunity for changing the work environment is monumental if you are a manager or team lead. Look around you and see what your employees are doing for each other. Who stayed late to help the team finish the project due tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.? Who covered for Sally who is at a dentist appointment?  Who volunteered to help Evan in accounting who was buried with end of the year close-outs?  Who made time in their schedule to plan the holiday party?

Observe these little kindnesses and tell them thank you. You will start an unbelievable chain of events. Like a smile that doubles when you give it away, being grateful for observable kindnesses at work will double the efforts of all employees to be thoughtful and considerate of others.

The leader’s gratitude challenge is this: Every day for one month find at least one person you can recognize for their gifts of kindness and discretionary effort and thank them. This is just one thank you message a day. Your thank you can be in person, in email, or even penned in a hand-written thank you note.

By consciously changing the way we look outside of our cubicle or office from one of “nothing is ever right” to “I’m grateful for…” we change our little corner of the world and remake the company to a place of thankfulness for what is working. The power is within you to make your environment into a happier place for everyone you touch on a daily basis.

Will you take the gratitude challenge? Will you thank at least one person each day for their efforts in behalf of other people and the overall success of the company?

Take the challenge and become a more charismatic leader – the leader people follow because they want to, not because they have to because of your place on the organizational chart.

Karla’s Keynotes

Karla presents keynotes and breakout sessions on how to become the leader people choose to follow. The topics include “True North,” Assessments, and Teamwork. Use the form below to contact her office and check availability.

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