Leaders, Build Your Gratitude Practice


For many, November signals the start of the holiday season, spending more time with family and giving thanks. While big events like Thanksgiving may spark reflection on what we’re grateful for, we can take this opportunity to build habits around a daily gratitude practice to use beyond the holidays, throughout the entire year.

While you may feel like you already have enough on your plate in your leadership role, and can’t possibly fathom how you could add “one more thing,” including a regular gratitude practice into your workflow doesn’t have to be complicated. Plus, you can leverage enormous benefits that will be good for you, your employees and your business.

Research has shown that working a regular gratitude practice into your life can increase your well-being by giving you a more positive outlook, more motivation to exercise regularly, and lead to less doctor visits. Six doses of feeling 30 seconds of gratitude daily--that’s three minutes per day--will enable your neurons to fire together and wire together around gratitude within two weeks.

Additionally, sharing your gratitude with others has positive impacts. This is illustrated in a study of a university workplace where employees were eliciting alumni donations. Employees who were given a pep talk and message of gratitude from their manager made 50% more fundraising phone calls than employees who were not given the positive messaging ahead of time.

Today is as good a day as any to “break the mold” of only doing gratitude around the holidays or during huge milestones in life. Having a consistent gratitude practice in our daily lives means storing up positive energy all year long, energy that busy leaders can use at any point when work gets stressful.

The research is strong and the benefits are numerous. Here are some tips to start incorporating gratitude into your workflow:

Gratitude Practice This Gratitude Practice from the SmartTribes Institute is a great place to start.

Journaling Yes, you can fit journaling into your busy schedule! Creating a gratitude journal can be as simple as you want it to be. Use any notebook you have lying around (or treat yourself to a fun one, just because) and take five minutes every day to write down one to three things you are grateful for. Try to always seek out original content for your list and your awareness of everything you have to be grateful for will grow.

Meditation Adding meditation into your workflow means changing your routine a bit, but regular practitioners swear by the benefits and, like any habit or routine, you will likely not even remember life before your daily meditation practice once established. Often taking a few minutes first thing in the morning to be aware of your breath and focus on one thing that brings you joy can set the foundation for a day where you lead with positivity and calm.

Of course, gratitude does not only have to be an inward-looking practice. Sharing your gratitude with others during your work day is a great way to model those practices for your team. Plus, who wouldn’t benefit from some positivity spread their way? Just make sure you are intentional and meaningful in your messaging with team members so that everyone gains as much as possible. Sarah Young, founder of Zing Collaborative, coaches leaders and regularly teaches courses on the difference between praise and feedback. She had a few innovative ideas for how to discern between the two, and include some extra positivity into your workflow.

Friday Feedback Each Friday, before leaving the office, take three minutes to appreciate someone on your team. Write them a handwritten note, drop them an email, or stop by their office to let them know the positive impact they've had that week and why it's important. This is a great way to end the week on a positive note, and also to ensure that appreciation is part of your week.

Praise versus Feedback Blanket statements like "great job!" or "you rock!" might feel nice in the moment, but they aren't actually very helpful for team members' growth. Instead, be specific when you appreciate others. Share what was great (a specific, observable behavior) and why it matters (the impact this had). When sharing positive feedback, we want to not only help team members to feel appreciated and valued, but also to help them to understand specific, repeatable behaviors that will help them grow and thrive.

It may sound corny at first, but get out there and spread the message of positivity, gratitude and awareness of the abundance present in your life. We’ll all be better off for it, and your business will reap the gains of a workplace centered on gratitude and thoughtfulness.

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