I took a trip to Springfield, IL and visited the Lincoln Museum. I know as much about Lincoln as I learned in grade school – in other words – the sanitized legend. The museum did a phenomenal job of breaking out the reality of the man in the dark era of the Civil War through which he led the country.
His life had more business and political failures than successes. His presidency, where he did succeed, was filled with public scorn, derisive attacks, and burdens few if any have ever experienced. The press often portrayed him as a monkey or ape in political cartoons.
Daily he sat in the telegraph office getting the latest tally of over 1,300,000 lost American lives. He lost three of his four sons – two during his presidency.
Enduring this much responsibility, loss, public scorn, and personal sacrifice only to be assassinated at the end of the war by the white supremacist Booth, helped me understand why the world has held him in such esteem.
By the end of the tour, I felt incredible gratitude for this man’s life and what he sacrificed to create the country we have today. Here’s what I’ve learned about gratitude from him:
- Gratitude is based on awareness. If we’re going to be grateful, we must become aware of the blessings we have.
- Gratitude is a response to what we receive/perceive as gifts.
- What we see as coming through our own efforts alone may generate pride, but not gratitude.
- The admonishment to be grateful in all things implies nothing is created through our hands alone.
- All our life experiences are a gift, whether our egos prefer them or not.
- Gratitude grows upon itself.
- The more we practice gratitude the more we see things to be grateful for.
- Grateful people offer acts of generosity and kindness and inspire gratitude.
- These acts are a blessing for those giving and receiving them.
- Gratitude opens the heart and brings out the best in our nature.
- Gratitude builds a sense of life as abundant and good.
- Gratitude makes us better people and better leaders.
Change your Success - Gratitude formula from:
If I work hard enough, I’ll become successful. Then I’ll be happy and grateful.
I am grateful first, which supports me showing up positively in my work and life, driving my success.
The first formula perpetually raises the bar for more work and sets the target of success beyond the psychological horizon. In the workplace, this often sounds like, “Great job everybody, we hit our numbers. Next month lets shoot for 10% more.”
One sentence of celebration and back to pushing the boulder up a now higher hill.
The things that are going right can be invisible to us. We walk by hundreds of actions daily contributing to the outcomes we work so hard to achieve yet fail to take time to appreciate them.
The second formula enables you to appreciate the success you’ve experienced and be thankful to those who have contributed to it in the present, rather than continually pushing satisfaction out into the future.
This creates a virtuous cycle of motivation and fulfillment, leading to greater productivity and a sense of progress.
As Shawn Achor, author of “The Happiness Advantage,” states in his Ted Talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work,”
“If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. We've pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon, as a society. And that's because we think we have to be successful, then we'll be happier.
Our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody's level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which [means] your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed.
Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, we've found that every single business outcome improves.
Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed.
You're 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed.”
According to Shawn, the business benefits of the “happiness advantage” are:
- Superior productivity
- More secure jobs
- People keeping jobs
- More resilience
- Less burnout
- Less turnover
- Greater sales
- Build your practice of gratitude.
- Record three (small) things each week you are grateful for.
- Do this weekly for a month and you will train your brain to positivity.
- Express your gratitude to those who are gifts in your life.
- Do something every day for others.
- Become a blessing and help others grow in their gratitude by your actions not just words.
Bottom-line, don’t wait – begin with gratitude. It activates your brain and creates sustainable success in your life.
At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.
For more information, contact Steph Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org