Reflections on Gratitude January 2018

Reflections on Gratitude

In the process of looking toward the New Year, many of you have no doubt spent time recently looking back at your experiences of 2017—and those of your family, friends, neighbors, and the world. For me personally, the year brought great joy and gratitude, along with deep sadness as we witnessed (and some of us experienced directly) so much devastation from hurricanes, floods, fires, and horrific mass shootings. You could say that it was a year in which it sometimes was difficult to focus on giving thanks—of Encouraging the Heart.

Whether in our personal or professional lives, we in The Leadership Challenge Community know that support and encouragement from others is one of the most important ways humans remain resilient, and overcome adversities through times like those we’ve been experiencing. Our own LPI® data clearly shows that engaging more frequently in Encourage the Heart behaviors has a positive impact on team spirit, feeling valued, meaningfulness, and all the other measures of Positive Work Attitudes. Other studies back that up as well. One from Robert Half and Office Team, for example, found that 66 percent of workers said “they’d likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated” (up from 51 percent in 2012). Another study, commissioned by John Templeton Foundation and reported out in Greater Good Magazine, also found that “81 percent would work harder for a grateful boss” and “93 percent agree that a grateful boss is more likely to be successful.”

Our own research and that of others continues to document the desire for gratitude and appreciation in our workplaces, which is what makes other data from the John Templeton Foundation report so astounding: only “10 percent of people express gratitude to their colleagues every day,” and “60 percent say they never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year.”

So, as we launch into another year of expectant joy and the inevitable challenges that will come with our work to liberate the leader in everyone, let’s continue to be mindful of two things:
  1. What we do matters, and 
  2. We still have a lot of work to do to move the gratitude needle.
It starts with us. Let’s all make a commitment to say, “thank you” more often, to share appreciations more often, and to express our gratitude to others more often. Those we thank will feel better, and we’ll feel better when we do.

And one final thing…if you want to begin this New Year with a little more awe, wonder, and gratitude in your life—and who doesn’t?—when you have 10 minutes of quiet time I urge you to watch Gratitude, a TEDx talk by photographer and filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg. Then plan to take another 10 minutes or so to count your blessings.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep making extraordinary things happen. We wish you great joy, good health, and continuing success in 2018.

Jim Kouzes is the Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the twelve best executive educators in the U.S., he was also the recipient of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award by Trust Across America. Together with Barry Posner, he is author of over 30 books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including the fully-revised and updated sixth edition of the international bestseller, The Leadership Challenge, and Learning Leadership, selected by Strategy+Business as one of the 2016 Best Business Books of Year.

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