Thoughts on Leadership: Gratitude Is an Attitude

The happy times we’re celebrating at my friend’s wedding remind me that gratitude is important through the good and the bad. Often, it’s even more important to find gratitude when challenges occur, causing you to adjust your strategy and find new ways to succeed. It reminds me a little of what happened when COVID first hit; there were things we did as an organization during that time—communicate more, develop more strategies for transformational change—that we should’ve been doing all along. Implementing those initiatives during the difficulties presented by the pandemic was a reminder that it’s the hard that makes you great. It’s the hard that separates you from the competition. You can have gratitude when something goes right, but you can also have gratitude when something doesn’t go exactly as it should, which in the race of life, makes you run even faster and find your stride in ways you wouldn’t have done before.

I’ve always said, “gratitude is an attitude,” and in November—National Gratitude Month—that sentiment takes center stage. To celebrate, I’ve decided all Thoughts on Leadership blog posts for the month will be about an aspect of gratitude, and how you can use it to enrich your business and life. (Also, if you have a gratitude story, please share it so we can inspire each other!)

Here are some ways gratitude can have tremendous benefits:

Mindset. Embracing gratitude helps you embrace a positive mindset, deal with adversity, build strong relationships and perpetually improve. Gratitude naturally allows you to look toward the positive and see the potential rather than the obstacles holding you back. 

No downsides. There are no downsides to bringing more gratitude into your daily routine. Oprah Winfrey once said: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.” Tommy Camp, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty, is always quoting Caltech Professor Dr. Roger Sperry, who said: “What you focus on expands.”

Health. Gratitude is a powerful way to improve your mental health and well-being. Zig Ziglar once said: “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

Perseverance. When you express gratitude, you’re more likely to persevere through any kind of adversity. Have you ever thought about why people quit? Or why people break the promises or commitments they make to themselves or others? Oftentimes, it’s directly related to the excuses and justifications they make for avoiding that task or action. They’re OK with living life at half-potential because they can easily excuse away what they didn’t have the mental toughness to achieve. (By the way, on the topic of excuses, an update on my commitment to you from the last blog post: I haven’t missed a day of my 100 push-ups and air squats routine.) With gratitude, excuses become unnecessary. Gratitude allows you the opportunity to reflect on your “why” and then, when you find gratitude in your life, you do the things you need to do to become the person—and leader—you want to be.

Accountability. Do you have a gratitude partner? I know many of us have accountability partners but gratitude partners are people you text every day to let them know the three things you’re grateful for. It could be a person, an achievement, or even a good breakfast! Whatever it is, having a gratitude partner you contact regularly can keep you accountable and allow you to add more gratitude to your everyday routine.

Productivity. In a 2022 study, Harvard Business Review found that the more power leaders have within a given organization, the less likely they are to feel and express gratitude toward others. Conversely, “high-gratitude leaders” generated higher levels of performance and productivity among their teams. The research revealed that “team members to reflect on why they were grateful for their team members subsequently engaged in more deliberate and thorough integration of others’ ideas which, in turn, led to enhanced team creativity.”

So, what’s the message? Gratitude is not something to achieve, it is something to generate during the good times and the hard times. The most exciting thing about gratitude is that we all have the potential to achieve it, no matter what circumstances come our way. Everything we need to show gratitude is already within us. That incredible feeling of being grateful for the life you’re living doesn’t come from more wealth, more talent, more connections—it always and forever comes from you. And let me tell you, I’m grateful for you reading this blog week after week as we continue to become the best versions of ourselves.

This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.

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