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Cylinder #4: Gratitude

In previous issues of Firing on All Cylinders, you read about three cylinders that, when properly tuned, can help your firm evolve from a Pinto to a Ferrari. The previous cylinders are connection, purpose, and acceptance of self and others.

The final cylinder, gratitude, may be the most important of all. Let’s face it: the news lately has been less than inspiring. The economy has slowed to a crawl, the stock market makes us all feel stupid, and the uniquely nasty political campaigning has made many of us bilious. It would be easy to let that get the best of us. What better time to focus on gratitude?

When is the last time you stopped what you were doing at work and thought “Wow, what a great life I have! I’m healthy. My kids and family are fine, I have a strong mind that I get to use for a good purpose. I have clients who like me and appreciate what I do for them, and I have good relationships with my colleagues. Life’s pretty good.”

If you feel grateful for your own life, you’re going to get better – with practice – at being grateful for the people around you at work. Expressing gratitude is one of the most authentic and powerful ways to solidify relationships with your team members.

How to Feel Gratitude and Express It

  1. Be aware of how terrific your own life is. It’s a safe bet that there isn’t a single professional in the country who is on welfare, or running a jackhammer part-time to pay the bills, or who suffers physical injuries on the job. Professionals have relatively fabulous lives. At the end of each day, find five things to be grateful for. Some days you might have to search hard to find five things, but do it anyway.
  2. Remember the people who have helped you. Find at least one of those people every day and thank them. If you can do it in person, do it. Never underestimate the power of a hand on a shoulder, direct eye contact, and two simple words: “thank you”. Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, express your gratitude. You’ll be amazed at the loyalty and good will you will build.
  3. Hand write thank-you notes. You may think of it as outdated, and you would be right. That’s exactly the reason to hand-write a note. People will hold onto it much longer than an email, and they will remember your kind gesture longer, too.
  4. Thank your group as a whole at every opportunity. Speak from your heart, not from a PowerPoint.

Pinto or Ferrari? You Decide.

The most important thing to remember from this series of articles is that each of the four cylinders must first develop within you. You have to start the process. Once you get your perspective right, you will find that your energy level goes up. And then guess what happens? That great, positive energy you’re experiencing gets projected to other people. They pick up on it and bring it into their own experiences, and then they send it right back to you. And that good energy just keeps on spinning upward and outward.

Applying your efforts toward understanding and demonstrating these leadership intangibles will yield results:

No doubt about it: getting your firm to evolve from a Pinto to a Ferrari takes patience, awareness, and maintenance. But the roar of your firm’s new engine will make it worth every bit of effort.

© Melinda Guillemette 2009