Expressing Gratitude as a Personal Leadership Practice

Gratitude-mbs.jpgBeing grateful and expressing gratitude are both behavioral practices of a personal leader.

It is the spiritual awareness of meaning that gratefulness brings which  makes expressing gratitude a high level personal leadership skill to be developed.

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:

Three Ways to Effectively Show Your Gratitude

Here are some additional post – where I reference gratitude as a personal leadership practice:

7 ways to self-inspire and be inspiring

7 ways to create personal leadership ease

Are you behaving like a personal leader?

Are you Behaving Like a Personal Leader?

Behaving like a personal leader It is in your behaviors that things are measured.  Your way of “Being”  is a large part of what it means to be an effective personal leader.  You can do a lot of talking about personal leadership development – but, it is in the being that you will be most fulfilled and also have the ability to lead more effectively.

Here are 7 ways  of behaving, which support being an effective  personal leader:

1. Being congruent

Being congruent means the reality of what is going on in your experience, in your thoughts, in your words, and in your actions are all aligned.   As a personal leader this kind of authenticity, may mean asking for help when you need it or it  may perhaps mean you have an opportunity to share a truth or an intuition.  Basically, there is a lot more communication in either word or deed that happens when you are fully aligned.   Being a role model for inspiration by behaving in a congruent way is key to personal leadership.

2. Being masterful

Taking the path of mastery requires a strong desire to learn, to grow and to be willing to practice.   It’s about going beyond that initial place of flow and doing the practice that will take you to a place of being consciously competent and then having the energy to be continually improving things.  It is this commitment to mastery – that will keep you in the flow zone of being a personal leader.

3. Being a continual learner

An effective learner has shifted there energy from fearing failure to loving the learning process and also all the different  parts of the learning process.  Embracing the idea of learning to succeed and that slips are just learning is a supporting structure of what it means to engage in personal leadership.  As a personal leader when you see opportunities to learn rather than opportunities to fail – you are a lot more resourceful and inspiring.

4. Being more focused on people than things

Behaving as people are most important in a situation  is an often-missed personal leadership behavior.   Within this behavior are things like remembering the interconnectedness of everyone, authentically expressing appreciation and gratitude, getting out of your head and more into your heart.  A compassionate view towards others is a necessity for an effective personal leader.

5. Being Responsive

Responding to people with grace – even in the mist of a chaotic situation is a sign that you are behaving as a personal leader.  It is that calm or equanimity that allows a personal leader to be able to respond from a place of choice rather than reacting first and thinking second.

6. Being Strategic

Being Aware of  the interconnectedness of everything, leveraging your strengths, developing systems for greater effectiveness, designing environments that are beyond supportive are key behaviours in personal leadership. When you take the time to see the big picture and then plan and design from there – you are being a personal leader.

7. Being fully and powerfully self expressed

Personal leadership is about leading from the inside to the outside.     A key part of personal leadership is aligning your behaviours with your personal calling and destiny in life and then serving others from that place of calling.