Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gratitude is Powerful and Contagious

Gratitude is a powerful attitude. 
thank you note for every language
I have written about gratitude  many times.  You can review summaries of three Lead Quietly gratitude posts below.

“Show Gratitude” is also Quiet Leader Commandment #7.   It is an important leadership tenet.

But it takes discipline. When the stress of our situation causes us to work with our heads down and a focus on our mission, it is easy to forget.  As is often quoted: "We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way." - Source Unknown

This past week, two of my colleagues, Jason and Keith, provided me with two  lessons and a reminder about the power of gratitude.  I don’t have to share details other then that their dialogue reminded me of the power of gratitude, and,

  1. You double or triple the impact if you go out of your way to deliver the message.
  2. It is hard to receive thanks without passing it back.  It’s contagious.  

Here is a quick summary of some of my previous writing on the topic as a further reminder of the power of gratitude.

Building Community:  Thank you as a way of leading

from the Lead Quietly Archives

Gratitude is an easy and remarkably powerful step in building the type of community that is essential for successful teams. As I have written before, "Building community is hard. However, it is easy to start quietly and simply with thanks and smiles.

First, I'd invite everyone to read the wonderful work of Rosa Say. I have employed Rosa's insight several times in the past including, 12 Rules for Leadership and It's All About Learning.
This week, her Managing with Aloha Coaching blog introduced me to the concept of "mahalo" which means thankful living. The most striking suggestion for a quiet leader is,

Say “thank you” often; speak of your appreciation and it will soften the tone of your voice, giving it richness, humility and fullness.

Transformational Gratitude

from the Lead Quietly Archives

Gratitude is transformational. Russell Bishop writes this past week on the Huffington Post that gratitude is a key to personal transformation. I'd like to share two of Bishop's thoughts and encourage you to read the full post.
Bishop writes, "given the stressful times in which we live and the apparent instability, unreliability, and fear wracked nature of our social and economic systems, it seems to me that the counterintuitive notion of Gratitude is needed right here, right now, for each and every one of us."
He goes on to write beautifully about the transformational force of gratitude.

Gratitude is a kind of seed that survives even the most devastating of circumstances, one that can germinate with the slightest amount of care. And when the gratitude seed germinates, the grateful typically experience an expansion of well being - emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
The seed typically sprouts in small ways, and yet the observant amongst us will notice that the tiniest sprout slowly grows into something more substantial. Gratitude is not just a seed, but also a form of nourishment that enables us to find our way out of difficult circumstances, to find choices that others might miss, and to craft an improved life experience.

This is a powerful sentiment for a simple concept.

Practice Gratitude - Increase Happiness, It's Official

from the Lead Quietly Archives

The research data is in. Gratitude builds community and increases happiness.
I have written in earlier posts that a simple thank you does much to build community. In Build Community - Start simply with smiles and thanks, I quoted Carmine Coyote who wrote at Slow Leadership, that gratitude is "major constituent in the glue that holds together groups of all sizes, from a few friends to society as a whole."

Leaders can use thanks and gratitude to start building a community of leaders.
The value and effect of gratitude was cemented in "Practicing Gratitude Can Increase Happiness by 25%" on the PsyBlog. The post cites the work of Dr. Robert A Emmons of the University of California, Davis in his book, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. In studies referenced in the book, Emmons found that people who focused on gratitude felt fully 25% happier and more optimistic about the future.

Additional research by Emmons and Dr Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami discovered that the benefits of gratitude extended to a variety of emotional, interpersonal and life gains.

Thanks to my colleagues for the lesson and reminder. 

Thanks for reading.  Lead quietly and don’t forget gratitude.


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