In thinking about my Thanksgiving post this year, I started to reflect on how ironic it is that we often lose sight of the meaning of the holiday in the hustle and bustle of our preparations and errands for the event (case in point: I need to find time today to pick up my favorite coconut cake from the bakery downtown).
Though your Instagram feed might make you think otherwise, Thanksgiving is not about showing off your perfectly set meal or obviously staged family photo. It’s about sharing your sincere gratitude for time spent with friends and loved ones. Think of how transformative it would be if we adopted that same attitude in the workplace.
I recently came across a thoughtful and heartwarming blog post from WorkHuman 2019 speaker Jason Lauritsen. It’s a letter of gratitude to his friend and mentor Cy Wakeman (another WorkHuman 2019 speaker!). He writes: “Cy, you are the best. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help me along the way. I’m so grateful to know you and call you a friend. I just wish we could find more time in our crazy lives to drink wine and solve the world’s problems like in the old days.”
Have you ever received a letter of gratitude? How did it make you feel? How often do you express gratitude at work?
Gratitude has been a foundational theme of the WorkHuman movement since its inception – which is why there’s a whole track dedicated to the topic at next year’s event. Below I’ve compiled a list of my favorite words of wisdom about the value of gratitude from next year’s speakers.
Kat Cole: “If you are a person who lives in a place of gratitude, you will find a way to give because you’re so grateful for the things that you’ve been given.”
Gary Hamel: “All of us work, in part, to be able to put bread on the table and afford the material comforts of life. But beyond that, most of us work for the recognition – I would even say the affection – of the people around us.”
Eric Mosley & Derek Irvine: "Gratitude magnifies the spirit and promotes well-being. In good times and bad, authentic appreciation creates perspective, literally stepping back from the distractions of the moment and affirming something more lasting than passing circumstance."
Cy Wakeman: “Peers calling out their support of one another and highlighting the work of others who are moving us forward turns up the volume on the good happening.”
Dave Bond: “It’s also critical to highlight why appreciation/recognition is important, not just to the bottom line, but also from a human behavior perspective. A formal recognition program is a critical component of a modern workplace.”
Nataly Kogan: “Begin an intentional daily practice of gratitude, which can be nothing more complicated than taking a minute every morning or night and jotting down a few things you are grateful for. There are more than 11,000 studies that show if you do this tiny, little practice consistently, it has enormous payoff, not just in how happy you feel but your overall emotional and physical health.”
Dr. Robert Emmons: “In many organizations the workplace culture is toxic. Symptoms of this are exploitation, complaint, entitlement, gossip, and negativity. Grateful living is a remedy against all of these symptoms. Gratitude produces higher levels of positive emotions that are beneficial in the workplace such as joy, enthusiasm, and optimism and the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness.”
Rahim Bhayani: “… in the age of crowdsourcing, employee empowerment, and low bureaucracy, it just felt right to let our employees recognize each other and take a shared accountability in driving our culture forward. The fact that we have made it a peer-to-peer program is mainly why it is so successful. It’s less about approvals and more about people feeling empowered to recognize colleagues for a great job!”
Jason Lauritsen: “In the work relationship, few things are more powerful or important than appreciation and acknowledgment. Knowing that someone recognizes our efforts and cares that we showed up each day is vital.”
Christine Comaford: “The combination of leadership and gratitude is extremely powerful. Gratitude helps you feel better and see the good things in life. When combined with a gratitude practice, you will also be able to anchor that positive feeling into your brain and body, thus being able to call on that positive emotional reserve whenever you need to.”
Never underestimate the power of gratitude – not just for tomorrow, but throughout the year. It’s the ultimate cultural energizer – good for you, your employees, and your business.
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