"Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent virtue of all others." –Cicero
As unrelenting uncertainty from all points of the globe impact even the smallest of businesses, we have noticed a troubling trend in the workplace. Leaders of organizations that have managed to survive the chaos of the past few years are not feeling particularly good about that accomplishment. If anything, they seem to be experiencing huge amounts of stress and even fear. They are not altogether sure how much further they can stretch fewer resources to meet increasing demands.
Employees in many workplaces are feeling tired, burned out, and often confused and conflicted. They still have a job, but have necessarily absorbed all or part of someone else's job due to downsizing. They feel burned out, used up and imagine their future only getting worse.
We wonder if this is some kind of survivor's syndrome. Is there a kind of post traumatic stress associated with surviving the great recession? Is the recession truly over? We will leave those questions to the sociologists and business academics. As business coaches, our immediate question is "how can we help?"
As our Quality Coach team ponders that question, we want to offer an old fashioned idea for starters. This idea is simple, takes very little time, costs nothing, and can make all the difference. It certainly has for us.
The potent practice of gratitude often gets lost in our altogether too busy lives. Gratitude is simply defined as "the state of being grateful; thankfulness." Author Sarah Ban Breathnach helped me realize that there was way more to be grateful for in my life, than not. In her book, Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude, she helps readers practice thankfulness on a daily basis. And of course, it goes back way before Sarah, when we were all taught to count our blessings. Regularly naming our blessings and being sincerely grateful for them is a magical practice. We have discovered that the more blessings we notice and name, the more blessings we have to count.
Once you begin to practice this counting of blessings in your personal life, it is time to take this into your work life. There are many ways to begin, but sometimes smaller is better. You can intentionally look for what there is to be grateful for, and become skilled at offering your appreciation for those aspects of your life. As you cast your stones of appreciation about, you begin to see a ripple effect of positivity. And positivity leads to "can do" attitude and actions, which leads to the results and outcomes we all need to help stabilize our business or organization.
A powerful twist on this practice is to invite others to identify "what's right" about your organization. Our tendency is typically to focus on "what's wrong" and "who's wrong." This literally drains employee energy.
Does that mean that we ignore what's wrong? No. Of course, not. We are simply advocating a more balanced assessment. And, interestingly we have found that taking a look at what's right along with what's wrong naturally gives folks more energy to fix what's wrong.
No matter what your job title, you can begin to unleash your own personal power and the power of those in your workplace when you commit to practice gratitude and express appreciation on a daily basis. It's no coincidence that our religious practices place so much emphasis on the simple practice of gratitude. It turns out that Thanksgiving is more than a day on the calendar. Thanksgiving is a moment to moment choice we make about where to place our attention.
"Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there's always something we could be grateful for." –Barry Neil Kaufman.