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Occasionally we find ourselves astonished at the goodness of life.
Most of the time, however, we wander through life with little gratitude. We fail to notice the beauty of the countryside or the kindness of others. We can spend most of our reflective time focusing on the past and especially the future without truly being in the present. As John Lennon cogently noted in one of his songs: “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.”
People who are filled with gratitude often have experienced extreme hardship or suffered profound losses. For example, you meet many grateful people who are recovering alcoholics, or those who have found genuine love after enduring years in a loveless relationship. Sometimes it takes the shock of facing one’s own mortality to experience gratitude. Playwright Dennis Potter (who was dying from cancer) remarked during his last television interview that he was living so intensely in the present that he noticed the beauty in ordinary things that he’d hardly paid attention to before. He captured this beautifully in his comment: “The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous.” How few of us achieve that level of awareness and appreciation for life! And also how often we fail to celebrate others.
One of the most underused motivation strategies used by leaders is appreciation, another manifestation of gratitude. How to make everyone a hero without negating a performance evaluation system or trivializing praise is a key skill leaders need to acquire.
Often leaders spend so much time focusing on what is wrong with a situation that they forget that the genuine celebration of a person or a team makes is one factor that makes people go to work excited about their goals and willing to persevere during the difficult times.
What are you grateful for?
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