I sit penning what might be my final article of 2020, next to the Crocodile River that’s inside our beautiful Kruger National Park, with two male lions lying in the distance, sleeping under a cloudy sky that will hopefully result in much needed rain. How grateful I am.
What a year 2020 has been, and it ain’t over yet. We still don’t know what drama the politicians in the US elections will conjure up. The COVID-19 war rages on, with the virus finding it’s way back into many countries for a second battle. And globally the economic ruin will be part of our unforeseeable future.
Amidst all of this and much more we learn invaluable leadership and life lessons that most leaders neglect to record, which means, sadly a lot of it will be forgotten. And if leaders don’t follow that instinct to record, who will?
One of my most powerful lessons I wish to place on record will go a long way towards emotional healing needed after a difficult 2020 year. And, if you truly want to be an exceptional leader, I trust you will benefit infinitely from reading this article all the way to the end.
I will introduce it via two separate tweets of mine recently, which I have expanded on slightly since: “A heart filled with GRATITUDE leads to a mind open for INSPIRATION, which if implemented results in ACTIONS of success and a life of happiness. As leader, foster a culture of gratitude and so much positive will follow. And it starts with you”.
And then this one: “When you deeply feel and sincerely express gratitude for someone or something, you “earn the right” to inspiration on how to significantly improve/grow that relationship or receive more of that something. Believe it or not, this is one of the secrets to great #leadership”
Clearly the principle I want to expand on is gratitude, an attitude of gratitude. However, I truly believe the full extent of the power of gratitude is yet to be discovered. Let’s explore together…
I propose five dimensions to gratitude and if you can master these you will be a happy and successful leader, part of a worthwhile legacy.
Dimension One: Feel and be grateful.
The first dimension starts with you. Every day, after waking up, find a way to feel and be grateful. For a start, quietly think of all the people and things you are grateful for. You could express it in prayer or review in some form of meditation. But get yourself into that space of gratitude before you go through or plan your daily activities. A mother or father that does this should influence their partner and kids positively as the morning of getting ready for the day unfolds.
Even traveling to work and actively reviewing what you are grateful for would be a powerful way to ensure your “Best Me” walks through that office door. And the Best Me cares more, finds better and more mature solutions, sees the bigger picture more clearly, changes the course of lives and businesses.
With practice you will learn how to be and feel gratitude for the detail in your life.
Dimension Two: Record the Gratitude
Feeling gratitude unlocks some of its power. But you enter another dimension when you also record it.
Recording what and who we are grateful for in a journal for example, becomes one of the ultimate acts of reverence and respect. It’s a sign of humility and an expression of readiness – I am ready for more. The act of recording helps us think through it more comprehensively and hence further cements the depth of our sincerity and authenticity.
Recording also helps with remembering. As I wrote recently in an article on “remembering”: “But let’s be honest, one of the biggest challenges in life is remembering … remembering past life lessons, birthdays, anniversaries, commitments made of meetings and call backs, what we learnt on a course, during varsity years, who we are, why we fell in love back then and so on. The list of what we must and want to remember is endless.
Most of us start a day, a week, a year, a relationship – personal or business partnership – with wonderful intentions, we even set goals for being and doing better. Yet so much of these fall away because we forget; life takes over; we do not make time to remember well enough (be grateful for) the emotional feelings, desires or reasons that led us to deciding and committing.”
A recorded attitude of gratitude helps heal our human condition of forgetting and strengthens the skill of remembering.
Dimension Three: Express gratitude…sincerely (authentically)
When I view my wife through a lens of deep gratitude – even write it down – and then express it to her sincerely, I earn the right to impressions – thoughts and feelings – on how to be a better husband; on how to further strengthen our relationship. Especially when I make the effort to ponder about the how. Then I need the discipline and humility to implement.
The same goes for that obstinate teenager. You might be grappling with how to get through to him/her. Well, first look at that child through a grateful lens, record it by writing it down, then sincerely express your gratitude…see what happens. There will probably be more receptivity to your suggestions and he/she may even come with some of their own.
I believe the same goes for your business, your leadership role and every other part of your life. If you have a deep sense of gratitude for your job, during a time when so many don’t have that privilege, chances are you will find ways to be even better at it and that leads to breakthroughs and so much more. If you extend yourself further by finding a way to record and express your gratitude to colleagues or your leader you take it into the “Leading In-Gratitude” dimension.
Dimension Four: Leading In-Gratitude
When you feel gratitude, record it and authentically express it you enter In-Gratitude mode, which is full-on leadership.
Looking at the above examples, you lead your own and someone else’s attitude into a better space and that is a precursor to leading towards improvement and growth. Notice how leading in-gratitude can go from leading yourself to leading others without a formal title.
Therefore, not only do you move closer to your Best Self because of your attitude of gratitude but you also nudge another in the direction of their Best Self. Now we can counsel together on resolving or solving an issue, or taking an already successful situation or relationship up a gear.
Gratitude recorded and expressed sincerely rather than just thought about, banks it, demonstrates it is authentic and you are ready for more – in a relationship, possessions, life lessons, experiences, leadership responsibilities, expanded business. And, it helps others get on to the same path of true fulfilment, happiness and achieving their full potential.
Please remember that the depth of sincerity of your gratitude and expression of it, will equal the power and level of impressions and breakthroughs. So if a leader does this as a tick box exercise the impact will go only so far. Do it with authentic sincerity and the impact could be life changing.
The highest form of Leading In-Gratitude is when you become a multiplier; when you consciously encourage the leaders under you to start Leading In-gratitude so that a culture of not only gratitude but leading in-gratitude takes root. They say the most important job of a leader is to create more leaders. I say, create more Leaders who Lead In-Gratitude.
Dimension Five: Leading In-Gratitude Globally
As we re-launch our #2020DAL Vision – Decade of Authentic Leadership – may we lead in-gratitude and multiply more grateful leaders, employees, cultures, citizens, parents, youth and societies. Without a tsunami of gratitude rolling over the earth we will not value adequately all our positive gains of the past 100 years and we will regress faster than we can imagine. Please work hard at acquiring the talent of “Leading In-Gratitude”, because that’s what’s amazing about it, anyone can, unlike singing or acting. And we desperately need a societal atmosphere of gratitude so that we receive impressions together about how to lead our planet, its citizens and all life forms more effectively.
Start by revisiting 2020 through a grateful lens, with the intent of accessing in-gratitude mode and you will build an excitement for 2021. And while the 2020 decade will be about building Authentic Leaders, may 2021 be the year of “Leading In-Gratitude”, to lay a solid foundation for the remaining nine years.
Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year filled with gratitude and giving.
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(2020 Decade of Authentic Leadership)
CEO & Co-Founder Leadership Platform
Co-Founder Think Lead – Creators of Global Leadership Platform