The Power of Gratitude

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If you could change other’s lives, increase your own happiness, and boost your chance to succeed in everything you do with 5 minutes each week, would you invest your time?  Cultivating and expressing authentic gratitude will do all of these things for you, and quite possibly propel you to the next level in your career.

You can change someone’s life by expressing your gratitude.

Tom was a manager at one of the restaurants where I worked during college.  As I studied, I always thought of him as I read about the best management techniques.  He made me take pride in my work, and I often spoke of his leadership techniques during class discussions.

Five years after I stopped working for Tom, I looked him up online and sent him a thank you note.  I told him how he had impacted my management style, and how much I appreciated his leadership during that time.  Tom was floored and told me he needed to hear that more than he could explain.  He had lost his job due to downsizing, was going through a divorce, and felt completely hopeless.  He later told me that my thank you message changed the way he approached life.

I had no idea that my message would make such an impact.  It is always worth your time to express gratitude to people who have positively impacted you!  You may never know how much they needed to hear what you have to say.

Saying thank you can increase your influence.

When did you last thank a partner for a referral or a customer for doing business with you?  Have you ever taken inventory of the people who make your success possible each day?  Seasoned sales ninjas know that without a solid team, they cannot achieve their full potential.

Emily felt isolated in her new position at a technology firm.  She struggled to find meaning in her work and work relationships.  Instead of wallowing in defeat, she cultivated a grateful attitude.  She regularly wrote thank you notes and made personal phone calls to express her gratitude.  She developed a relationship with a manager in a neighboring department who became her mentor and advocate.  Her coworkers began to open up to her.  Clients she worked with began gauging her interest in open positions at their company.  Six months after contacting an old manager, she received a job offer.  In the end, Emily stayed with her current employer and worked her way up the ladder with the help of her mentor.

Gratitude makes you more attractive to people and can shift the culture of your company.  Thankfulness increases your influence organically with minimal effort.  Take time to appreciate the people around you and the impact may shock you!

Expressing gratitude can accelerate your career.

Sarah worked a data entry job during college.  Her company had a bad year, so management decided not to pay out Christmas bonuses.  Instead, they gave each employee a $100 Visa gift card.  Instead of complaining, Sarah sent an email to the CEO expressing her gratitude.

A few days later, Sarah attended the annual Christmas party and stood with a group of colleagues.  She turned around when someone tapped her on the shoulder, only to find the CEO.  He asked her to come with him and introduced her to the CFO, COO, and VP of Marketing.  No one said anything about the thank you note.  Instead, they asked about her experience, education, and goals.  From that day on, the CEO knew Sarah’s name and would stop by her cubicle regularly.  At times he would ask for her opinion, and eventually promoted her to lead a new division at the company.

Cultivating and expressing genuine thankfulness means a lot to other people.  Sarah did not get a promotion by saying thank you.  She earned the promotion through hard work, talent, and by sharing bright ideas.  However, expressing gratitude made her stand out and enabled her to align herself with the right people.

How to cultivate genuine gratitude:

I have had days/weeks when I struggled to feel grateful.  I felt underappreciated, overworked, and miserable.  Here is how I have launched myself out of that mindset:

  1. Set aside 30-60 minutes in your schedule, and write down all of the things you are grateful for.  Include work related items and things outside of work.  After focusing solely on these things, you will notice a shift in your attitude.
  2. Focus on the people who have influenced your life.  Write specific examples of what they have done to help you.
  3. Write at least one thank you note.  Make sure it is genuine and heartfelt.
    • Name a specific incident where they helped or inspired you (ex:  “Thank you for jumping in to help on my project last week.”)
    • Call out at least one positive quality about them that other people might not typically point out.  (ex:  “You always pull your weight on team projects, and I have never heard you complain.”)
    • Tell them how they impacted your life (ex:  “Your efforts inspire me to work harder and push for higher quality.” )
    • Express a quality you admire about them (ex:  “I admire your upbeat attitude and work ethic.  You brighten our office every day by being you.”)

You might be surprised at people’s reactions to getting such a personal thank you note.  Do not say thank you to someone just because you want something from them; make sure that it comes from heartfelt gratefulness.

 

Express your gratitude to someone today.  Write an email, pick up the phone, or write a personal note.  Cultivating a thankful attitude can propel you to new heights in your relationships, your career, and enhance your mental health.  Regardless of the impact on your career, work toward a grateful heart today to make yourself happier and improve life for those around you!

 

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