While on a cruise to Mexico, I read a spiritual book called One Thousand Gifts. First chapter in, my list of the 1000 things had begun. It was uncanny, how
just being observant to what is and being thankful for small things (such as having someone else make my bed, the smell of suntan lotion, the white foam on a wave) changed my perspective on things. As I continued to read the book, I kept adding to my list hourly — intentionally looking for things I may not have previously seen as “gifts.” It took me three full days to finish my list and in that short time…
It Transformed Me
You may argue the fact that I was on vacation or maybe it was the sunshine and the margaritas. I thought the same thing, so I started the list again when I got home. I am ending 2011 with over 500 more!
There is something about having a number as a goal that makes it a transforming game. The discipline of making yourself keep track encourages you to look throughout your day for little gifts that scream gratitude! My list includes everything from my mom’s voice and the steam from my morning tea to the breakdown of the car and the disappointment of a cancelled trip. Even the hard and stressful things you experience take on new meaning when you look at them with new eyes.
Why Leaders Struggle
People rarely leave jobs where they are appreciated. When there is a genuine appreciation of a person’s talents and contributions, there is low turn over, better outcomes and greater efficiency. Leaders primarily struggle with gratitude because they have already moved on to the next challenge. Their mind is moving the ball down the field to the goal line. Thus, they forget to vocalize their appreciation or recognize what good is happening all around them, because they are already down the road to the next fire.
Consider the firefighters who put out a huge fire. As they are dealing with the last of the hot embers and beginning to clean up, suddenly another fire breaks out across town. Leaving a clean-up crew behind to finish the job, they race across town and save a child just in the nick of time. Of course, they are held up by all the media attention and reporters; thus they return to the firehouse pumped up on adrenaline ready for more. What are the chances they go back to the clean-up crew and thank them for what a great job they did? It’s not that they are not grateful, they just got busy doing another life threatening feat.
What We Want From Our Leader
AND we also want them to take a few moments to reflect on what has been successful thus far, vocalize their gratitude for the diversity of talent and contribution of their team, and celebrate progress being made along the way.
It is usually not a natural thing for a leader (although wonderful when it is) to be intentional about vocalizing their praise and appreciation. Yet, it is transforming when they do. It transforms them as a leader and it absolutely transforms the people and the culture. Let’s be honest: it will only happen if there is intentionality. If you want it to work, it requires a measurable goal to track to with a meaningful return.
Therefore, I am going to help you be the best leader and person you can be with the True Life Leadership Challenge of 2012!
I’m inviting you to join me in identifying, naming, and writing down 2,012 things you are thankful for during the year of 2012. It is only 38 per week or 167 per month. For goodness sakes, it is less than six a day! AND this is a leap year, so you get an extra day to think up a few more. Get yourself a small journal that will capture your 2012 items. Or do what I do: turn my journal upside down and start from the back. It is larger so it holds three columns of 25 each.
Who Is In?
If you are in, I’d like to know below. I want to follow your success and learn from your list. Your gratitude items may help me look for something I would have missed otherwise. Come on, you busy people, it’s less than six items a day! This project has even inspired me to start a daily email “quote of the day” so I will remind you. (Besides, you can always get caught up as it is only 38 per week and there is always the four-day weekend at Thanksgiving if you fall behind!)
The transformation only happens, though, when you are consistent. Being consistent forces you to change your perspective and look for things that you would usually pass over. So join in and be accountable! Let me know below if you are in — and list your first six things to see how easy it is to get started. Let’s use the hashtag #2012thx on twitter and I would love to see you randomly post a few on our facebook page.
Maybe at Thanksgiving, we can share our transformation stories. I can’t wait!
Your Coach Is Grateful for You!