Why is it oftentimes a struggle for us to practice gratitude? In my experience, it’s often not too difficult to remember to be grateful for the opportunities we are given in life or when someone goes out of their way to be kind. The difficult part is in making the effort to make it a practice to express this gratitude.
“FEELING GRATITUDE AND NOT EXPRESSING IT IS LIKE WRAPPING A PRESENT AND NOT GIVING IT.” – WILLIAM ARTHUR WARD
Whether or not someone puts forth the effort to express gratitude says a lot about a person. Over the last fifteen years of my career, I’ve likely interviewed hundreds of applicants for one position or another; typically all with very impressive resumes and relevant experience. How could I differentiate between them? How would I figure out what type of person they would be to work with? The difference oftentimes came down to whether or not they were the type of person that would take the time to send a simple thank you note.
So, how do you foster an authentic company culture of humility, service and gratitude?
Here are three actions that have helped us at Marie Mae in our efforts to be more intentional about practicing gratitude, as well as fostering a company culture of gratitude and service.
1. Keep a running list of what you are grateful for.
Try to schedule this into your day as you would the gym, walking the dog or a client meeting. Take the time to write down what you are grateful for in a journal, and keep it on hand at all times. I personally have a terrible memory, so I try to make a point of keeping a journal of those I am thankful for and the little wins in business. It’s always uplifting to read back over these and see how blessed you really have been in your life.
2. Act on your gratitude.
I know this seems like common sense, but you and your team should make it a habit to actually act on your gratitude. Oftentimes, we have good intentions, but then get busy with some other task. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as sending a quick email saying thank you to a coworker for something they did or sitting down and writing a quick card to let someone know you are grateful for their hard work day in and day out. In an age of electronic correspondence, we personally think a handwritten thank you note and the extra effort it requires is much appreciated.
Here’s a difficult one for most of us – practice gratitude that someone took time out of their busy life to spend time with you by really being present in the moment, rather than being engrossed in our smartphones.
3. Go beyond this, and look for ways to serve others.
One of the best ways we can express our gratitude is through serving others. Some of the best leaders I know are true servants – from the partner who would never allow the receptionist to bring coffee to his guests (but rather fetched it himself) to the former National Security Adviser who made a point of thanking the interns for their hard work and letting them know he valued their opinion every chance he had.
These acts of gratitude and service are contagious and can infect everyone around you. In order to incorporate the practice of gratitude into your company culture, your family or your circle of friends, this oftentimes needs to start with you taking the time to serve others.
The little things add up, from bringing your colleague a latte when you know she needs it, to handwritten thank you notes to each of your customers, to inviting an intern along to a meeting because you know how much they will appreciate it. It is through these types of acts you are able to show others how much you and your company are grateful for all they do in your life.
As I said, oftentimes the real struggle is not that we aren’t grateful, but that we don’t take the time to express our gratefulness. So, I’ll leave you with a challenge I have set for myself this year. When a thought comes to mind regarding something nice you could do for someone, do it. Practicing gratitude really can be that simple.