The month of Thanksgiving is upon us (again … can you believe it?) and that means family gatherings, turkey, and a few reminders of what we’re thankful for. It may only come once a year, but it’s helpful to develop habits of thanksgiving for not just food or family or friends but for so many other benefits we enjoy in life.
I recently enjoyed a holiday trip to Yosemite National Park with my husband, Alex. With no pressing deadlines, no phone calls, no stressed clients reaching out late at night, I was able to relax, unwind, and quiet my own mind.
I Began to Notice Something
I decided to take pictures of people in their work environment. Waiters, bellhops, service station attendants, park rangers, retail staff … everyone, really, but especially those who exuded something we don’t often find during our business lives: a sense of genuine love for the work they do.
It’s not that we don’t love our work. I know I do.
It’s that we have a nasty little habit of letting life’s everyday stresses infiltrate each moment, and we no longer act like we’re loving the work we do. We rush from one place to the next, heads down or eyes fixed ahead, zip past our colleagues and barely pay attention when they say “Hi.”
There always seems to be a surmounting challenge or deadline or crisis to content with. As executives, you have a tremendous responsibility. A massive weight on your shoulders.
But are you thankful?
Thankfulness Reminds Us of What We Have
“You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone.”
You’ve heard that expression in one form or another, haven’t you? You’ve probably even lived through it at least once in your younger life.
Maybe it was a job in high school you took for granted. Or significant other. Maybe a spouse.
We can have the best of something, but we begin looking around and getting frustrated by little, inconsequential things. We start thinking, “I deserve better” or “This is so beneath me.”
Maybe some of those thoughts led you to something better, but inevitably we all have something we look back on with regret because it’s no longer part of our lives.
In today’s social media driven world, it’s too easy to get caught up in comparing our lives with family and friends, especially those who we barely know or haven’t seen in decades. The problem is everyone tends to share the best of themselves and avoid letting people see the dirt, the stress, the debt, the doubt.
And we wonder why we can’t be as ‘well adjusted’ or happy.
Then, one day, on a vacation trip to California, you realize being thankful is far more important.
As I watched and studied so many of these men and women -not executives or even leaders in most regard within their jobs, but regular employees- I noticed so many of them were happy.
Their smiles were genuine. Their offer to help sincere. Their passion for what they did contagious.
They were thankful for what they had.
That doesn’t mean they’re rich, live on palatial estates, or drive high end luxury cars. Those are fine for some, but what these people possess is a clear understanding of what’s most important in life.
And it’s reflected in the way they treat others.
Oh, Let’s Talk About Wasps
When Alex and I returned to our hotel that first evening, a bit tired and worn out, we stepped into the room and a wasp infestation. Literally. Nasty stinging pests everywhere.
There were no available rooms, though. So we ended up having to drive two hours to the next available hotel.
Sure, I was upset. But I was quickly reminded by the friendliness and genuine joy that hotel staff offered that I need to be more grateful, especially during those trying times.
Their attitude wasn’t canned. It wasn’t fake.
They honestly love what they do, and their gratitude showed in the way they went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and welcomed.
And I was quickly grateful we didn’t need to sleep with wasps!
If You Lack a Thankful Heart, It Often Leads to Resentment or Envy
When you’re under constant strain and stress at work, it’s easy to begin micromanaging your staff. When the pressure’s on, it’s too easy to slip into this idea that everyone else has got it better.
You might start wishing you had that or didn’t need to ‘deal with this.’ You get resentful. You get frustrated.
And you stop looking out for the best interest of those who work for you. You stop taking an active interest in mentoring others.
When We Embrace Thankfulness, It Changes Our Perspective
Loving what you do is great. Remembering all the blessings you have in life is powerful. When we embrace a continual attitude of thanksgiving -even when the times are tough and deadlines fast approaching- it can remind us that we’re in a great place.
With that kind of heart, with that kind of outlook, just imagine how contagious it can be!
Cynthia Corsetti is an Executive Coach and Speaker. If you’d like to learn more on how her C.A.R.E. to Engage system can help you create an engaged workforce in your organization, you can email her at: [email protected]