September has been one of the toughest months I’ve had for a while, both in business and in life. Usually I’m a gun at wellbeing maintenance, with an established daily practice for a healthy mind, body, and soul. But this month that all went out the window…
A busy schedule and providing support to a loved one left me energetically depleted. I got sick, and was mentally and emotionally overwhelmed (hello random inappropriate tears!) It was not only bad for me personally, it was bad for me in business.
In years gone by I would have muttered “Toughen up! Just get through it!” But I no longer sweep things under the rug- I know where that leads. Today, as a leader in business, I am responsible for more than just getting through at any cost. As leaders we need to keep moving forward in a positive direction. The only choice was to take a dose of my own medicine: A healthy dose of compassion, followed by a HUGE dose of gratitude.
You may be rolling your eyes here. In this age of Instagram celebrities where gratitude parades as a hashtag, it’s easy to be jaded by wellness hype. Even so, this practice has been an enduring tenet of philosophy, spiritual growth and personal transformation for thousands of years. But don’t just take my word for it…
The growing power of gratitude
While there’s been great depth and breadth of study into negative emotions, like depression and anxiety, the cognitive and neural mechanisms of positive emotion and the correlating actions is a far newer field of science. There’s a growing body of evidence from the last decade that gratitude practices improve mental health, elevate physical wellness, and improve relationships and social support.
What I find time and time again, is that it’s daily practices of the mind that have the most far reaching effects on positive change. They’re also the first to get relegated to a back burner in busy schedules.
From hashtag to habit
In a high performance environment, it’s common to have awareness of the benefits of these practices. We understand the abstract concept of gratitude (#blessed #grateful), but how many of us have a regular gratitude practice? And what does that mean in the context of leadership performance?
As we continue to deliver the Whole System Leadership ProgramTM, we’re putting this to the test. Over the last few weeks we’ve worked with over 100 leaders and their teams to develop their self-leadership skills, and embed habits that lead to increased health and productivity. I’ve been humbled and inspired by the changes people are making in their lives, careers, and environments. When we talk about improving mental health, introducing positive reflection habit in the form of gratitude, is spurring them on to build the confidence to step up and when used with their teams, create greater connectivity and engagement.
Here is some of the home-play we recommend to get your gratitude flowing;
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Each day, write 3 things that you’re grateful for.
As with all things, a practice of gratitude begins with self. At my lowest points this month that was a real struggle for me – that Debbie Downer mindset wanted to rule! The three things that pulled me back? This amazing community (that’s you), my partner (my rock), and the simple power of being grateful for food on the table and a roof over my head.
2. Elicit Positive Feedback
We’re all conditioned for our position, and a large part of that conditioning is we learn to look for mistakes, exceptions, and flaws (hello negative bias!). That’s vital for continuous improvement, so let’s add a step. Each time you give feedback to yourself or your team, ask yourself;
- What did I/they do well? What else? And what else? (yes – x3!)
- What is a positive personal quality that allowed me/them to succeed?
- What’s the value I/ they have contributed?
3. Express Appreciation
It’s amazing how often people are motivated to share negative feedback in comparison to positive! You’ll have noticed this through your own lived experience. Be part of changing that trend by noticing each day the people around you; who supports you, is a consistent contributor, or contributes to your team’s success? Don’t wait for a meeting or performance review, make this a part of your daily attitude as a leader.
Let them know: “Thank you! I appreciate you!” Be specific about which personal quality you appreciate. You could do this face-to-face, send a card, or elevate them in a meeting. The extra bonus is that you will both experience a boost in your serotonin levels. Win-win!
I’d love to hear your insights and experience into gratitude, and I appreciate your feedback (see what I did there!)
Are you ready support your leaders and your people to be more resilient and build positive momentum for themselves and their teams?
Talk to us today about launching our Self Leadership Wellbeing Programs in your business which includes Mental Resilience & Emotional intelligence training to create understanding and generate momentum. Book your Start Thriving More call now for a complimentary 20 minute consultation to get started.