Being grateful and expressing gratitude are both behavioral practices of a personal leader.
When we express gratitude we inspire more than just ourselves – we also inspire those around us.
Over the past 15 years, I have had a daily gratitude practice in one form or another. Even though my own practice has morphed many times over the years (depending on what I was exploring at the time); there have been some constants:
Here are 5 ways to develop a personal leadership gratitude practice:
Make it habitual. Making expressing your thankfulness a habit in your life can reap many benefits. The benefits could be everything from personal fulfillment – to having the capacity to help anyone you come in contact with, feel a little better about themselves or their day.
The point I want to make here, is that when you have a measured daily practice around gratitude it acts like a “re-focuser” to bring you back to what is truly important to you.
There are many ways you can do capture the habit of gratefulness. You can keep a gratitude journal. You can write gratitude notes and put them in a jar or give them a way – or even mail them. You can say them silently. You can whisper them in to the wind. How you capture it is less important than the behavior of being grateful. I believe the most important part of gratitude is to take it into your internal world and be with it.
Make it meaningful. Meaningful gratitude means that it touches your heart in some way. It’s something that matters to you. It’s important. It brings something with it. For example, there is a big difference between writing any old 15 things to be grateful for vs a list where every single thing on the list is so meaningful – that it moves you. When your own gratitude list becomes inspirational to you – you’ve raised the bar to a personal leadership level. Even if you begin with just 1 thing – make it meaningful.
Make it relevant. Relevancy is a super criteria to add to your gratitude practice because it may prevent you from getting into a comfort zone with gratitude. If you’ve written gratitude lists for a while now – if you find you are capturing the same things day after day – it may be a sign that you could do a relevancy check to see if things are still as relevant for you – or is it time to make some room on your list for something that would be more relevant to the day.
Make it light. When you just cant wait to think about gratitude at the end of the day – it is a sign that you have made your practice enjoyable. It’s also an indication of your personal grace.
There are lots of ways to make expressing gratitude more fun; get a little creative – and you may surprise yourself.
I know for myself personally, one way I express gratitude in a fun way when I am out at appointments is I carry little appreciation postcards – that I had out when appropriate. By doing it in the moment – made it fun for me – vs waiting until I could get home to type a note.
When you make your gratitude light – it also helps you to release any attachment you have for acknowledgment in return. I believe it removes the energy of “neediness” from being grateful.
Has someone ever expressed gratitude to you , and you felt it was not sincere? If you think about it now, I bet you can almost feel the heaviness in which it was expressed. When you express gratitude heart-to-heart with non attachment – there is a palpable difference in the energy.
Make it people focused vs thingy-focused. When we shift our awareness from things to people, we become more and more aware of oneness.
If you haven’t already begun a gratitude practice for yourself, begin simply. A small investment of thought at the end of each day – and over time the behaviour of gratefulness becomes a state of being.
Here is a nice post by Kevin Eikenberry about specific ways to express your gratitude that is worth reading:
Here are some additional post – where I reference gratitude as a personal leadership practice: