Does gratitude make you a better leader?
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." Melody Beattie, Author
Gratitude is the highest of attitudes. This thought came to me full throttle this past week. And, when gratitude is combined with wisdom, lessons can be learned, embraced and then taught.
Last weekend my computer got a nasty virus! I actually started writing this at the library because after SIX days Geek Squad had still not fixed the problem. (never again will I use Geek Squad but that's a whole other story)
So, I was without a dedicated computer and the internet for a week. And. sadly, I went through a withdrawal that brought up some interesting introspection. For about 24 hours I went into a frenetic energy wondering how I was going to get everything accomplished that was on my ever growing to-do list. What do you do when things are out of your control? I tend to ask myself, what am I supposed to be learning from this? The answer that came to me was to slow down and get clear on what's directly in front of me. Here's where the gratitude came in, after which wisdom came from listening to the lessons in the moment. I made the decision to be in an attitude of gratitude and truly practiced moving moment to moment. I took care of, and was grateful for, what was directly in front of me.
Effective leaders understand how to take the pulse of the current environment or situation and adjust accordingly when it involves things that are out of their control.
- Be curious. Staying in a state of awareness means shining the light of curiosity on stumbling blocks that come into your path instead of getting frustrated over situations that at first appear formidable.
- Surrender to the pace instead of trying to control what you can't. You'll find going with the flow much easier than swimming against it. What's in the way, is the way.
- Explore and clean out your current space. You'll be amazed with the kind of clarity you'll get from doing this. I had a yard sale last week and used the computer down-time to clear out the old to make room for the new. And, by new I mean fresh ideas, thoughts and energy.
- Take the time to reach out to an old friend or contact. Reconnecting brings on a surge of renewed energy.
- Invest in yourself. Take a class or read a book that you can learn from.
With Mercury Retrograde fully upon us (Sept. 7- Sept. 29), communication is particularly challenging. And, two very public examples of that this week put the notions of gratitude and wisdom in even closer perspective. Both Serena Williams and Kanye West had serious lapses in judgment in the way they communicated - Serena, when she berated a US Open line judge with inappropriate and vicious language; and Kanye when he selfishly stole a victorious moment away from VMA Award winner Taylor Swift.
How can there be gratitude in these circumstances? It may come from the realization of the impact of their actions, and for the asking for forgiveness which they both did. Was it enough? That's not for me to judge. The wisdom might come from the ability to look at the full extent of their actions and to create a teaching moment for those who can learn from it, particularly those impressionable enough to look up to those particular public figures. The wisdom comes in the lessons learned.
Gratitude is expression of truth as well as honest acknowledgment from within, and wisdom is the gift that comes from the gratitude awareness.
Socrates said, "Wisdom begins in wonder." So, with wonder and gratitude, slow down in those moments you can't control and listen to the lessons being taught. They very well could be great lessons in leadership. I know I'm grateful for being forced to slow down last week. The wisdom I gained from clearing out space, both literally and metaphorically, will serve me as I move forward with patience and perseverance.
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melody Beattie