The True Power of Gratitude

express your gratitude - advice on a sticky note against burlap canvas

A few years back, after attending a personal development workshop, I experienced the true power of gratitude.  At this session, we were asked to think about someone who made a big impact in our lives and to write a letter to that person, expressing how we felt.

As a serial over-achiever, I wrote two letters:  one was based on a professional impact, the other, more personal.

The first letter was written to someone I went to work for at a significant turning point in my life.  The job opportunity involved both a relocation and a change in professional direction.  In retrospect, I realize this man took a big risk hiring me; I also took a giant risk going to work for him.

Many of my friends in the organization advised me against the move.  The man is a tyrant, they said.  The last two people in this role lasted one week and one day, respectively.  Wow! I thought; how could I turn down a challenge like that one?

As it turned out, this was the single best career decision I ever made. The organization was going through a period of tremendous growth and rapid change and I learned a lot in a very short time.  Because I worked to gain his trust, he gave me lots of responsibility and lots of latitude. What an opportunity!

I learned so many valuable lessons working for him, including how to get my point across quickly, concisely and with impact.  I learned the value of taking immediate and full responsibility of mistakes and problems and I learned to respect and appreciate progress rather than waiting for perfect.

When I wrote, and told him these things, he was clearly blown away. People don’t do things like this, especially in the world of big business.  But who among us doesn’t long to be appreciated and valued for the difference we make?

The reality is that it sometimes takes years to truly appreciate the difference someone made in your life.  While I was working hard and dealing with the day to day frustrations and challenges, I did not stop to think of what I was gaining from the experience.  It was only in retrospect that I could clearly see it.

The second letter was more personal, written to a former family member.  She, too, had a big impact on me in my formative 20’s.  This woman was always a class act, treating people with respect and kindness. From her, I learned the beauty and value of a true loving, supportive partnership between two people, which led me to important changes in my personal relationships.

Also, though she was one of the best and brightest business people I ever knew, she was humbly content to operate in the background while others got the credit for her leadership and her ideas. At the same time, she did not allow people to steamroll her or take advantage; she had incredible inner strength and fortitude.  In fact, she gained the respect of many business people at a time when women did not get much credit for their contributions.  She had a very impressive way of balancing all the competing needs to do the right thing.

She was clearly moved by my letter.  She wrote and told me how much it meant to her to receive such acknowledgement; she had no idea I learned all these lessons by watching her.  After she passed, one of her family members told me she still had it nearby and read it often.  We all crave acknowledgement and appreciation.

I am forever grateful for having done this exercise and letting these people know how much I appreciated them and what I gained from having them as part of my life.

So, what about you?  To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?  Who made a lasting impact on you that you have never fully acknowledged and thanked?  To whom can you extend the true power of gratitude?

I’m challenging you – in this season for thanksgiving – though, any time is a good time – to write such a letter to someone who made a difference.  I promise, you will make someone’s day – and more.  And you will feel the true power of gratitude in your heart and soul.

And, of course, I’d love to hear back from you about your experience with this exercise.  Thank you for being with me, for reading my letters, for your kind comments and challenges and questions.  I truly appreciate hearing from you!

Wishing you all good things.

 

 

My Highlights 2015 – What Were Yours?

Happy New Year!

By way of sharing my highlights in 2015, I am also providing some resources that you might find helpful for setting up your success in the New Year.

One of the significant highlights of 2015 was presenting a signed copy of my book to my coach, mentor and teacher, Brendon Burchard.  Brendon encouraged me to write the book and further paved the way by introducing me to the publisher.

withBrendonBook

Of course, a big highlight was actually publishing the book.  There is nothing to compare with opening a box filled with copies of a book you wrote, when it arrives at your front door.  It’s a moment to savor.

If you don’t yet have your copy, you can get it here:

Other highlights:

    • Attending High Performance Coaching [Re]-Certification, an opportunity to interact with a small group of extraordinary people truly committed to improving the lives of others. Learn more about my high performance coaching program here.
    • Delivering the Keynote to the New Jersey Bankers’ Association Women in Banking at their annual conference and to Seton Hall’s Executive Suite Program, among others.  Read about the reaction here.
    • Facilitating Leadership Retreats and Workshops for business owners and executives who want to improve their results and the effectiveness in leading high performing teams.  Learn more about these programs during my FREE Webinar on Creating the Ultimate Competitive Advantage through Teamwork.
    • Reading over 30 fabulous books.  If you are looking for a great book, you can see my top recommendations here.
    • Meeting in person with my Mastermind Group for several days of sharing, teaching, learning, supporting and challenging one another to rise to another level in our work. If you are interested in learning about the benefits of a mastermind, let me know here.
    • Traveling to Germany, where we had the chance to re-visit the area where my husband served in the U.S. Army many years ago. Then, moving on to re-explore the South of France, with some good friends, visiting some outstanding museums, and of course, enjoying great food and great wine.
    • And, as always, spending time with family and friends sharing adventures, a few laughs, good food and wine while creating memories that last.

All in all, it was a very good, very full year.  I’d love to hear about some of your highlights from 2015.  Just add them to the comments! And, if you need help, use the questions in my year end assessment to help jog your memory. Get Your Year End Assessment Here

 

What’s Your Choice?

ChoiceEverything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

I have used this quote many times to illustrate the power we have to make choices. Having read the book Man’s Search for Meaning as a college student for my Psychology class, I recently listened to the audio version. I appreciated it so much more this time and I became quite emotional as I heard those words I’d often repeated. In context, they are even more powerful.

Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, writes with incredible eloquence about how he and others rose above despair, enduring daily atrocities and indignities. He experienced first hand just how much can be taken away from a human. That is, all but his power to choose.

Sometimes we take choice for granted and often, we narrowly define the elements where choice is available to us.

Or, we convince ourselves “I have no choice.” There is always a choice.

You can choose your attitude, your behavior, your emotions, your beliefs and your response to a particular set of circumstances. You can choose where to focus your attention and your energy. And, you can even choose your thoughts!

Think about it: before you actually do anything, it all starts with a thought or an idea. Your thoughts turn into action. So whenever it makes sense to do things differently, it also means you need to think differently. This is why, for me, any workshop or seminar or leadership retreat I facilitate, always starts with mindset. Once you know how to think about something, the doing becomes much easier.

The power of your thoughts to control your destiny is profound. To me, this is so important, I wrote a book about it. Becoming Deliberate: Changing The Game of Leadership From the Inside Out is available now from your favorite online retailer and soon in bookstores nationwide.

As you go about your life in the next week, think about this: In what area of your life right now do you need to be more deliberate about your choices?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Unexpected Benefit

Ellis FC.jpgSometimes, the unexpected benefit is the most meaningful.

When you write a book, people want to know why. What is your goal? What do you hope to gain? Some seek fame and recognition. For others, it is credibility. And others have a message they want to convey to the world. For me, it was a combination of the need to explore another form of creative expression and the desire to share my hard-won lessons of leadership with more people who could benefit from them.

I had the great good fortune to work with an extraordinary editor, Justin Spizman. He pushed me and challenged me every step of the way. By encouraging me to dig deeper, he helped me to find the insight and the meaning that I gained from my experiences and observations, as well as from my teachers. This allowed me to go beyond “reporting” what I had learned to share the wisdom I had gained from it with others.  To say he helped me find my voice is an understatement.

Recently, while discussing the benefits of working with Justin with a prospective new writer, I realized that much more had come out of that experience. By helping me to take what were seemingly unrelated life experiences and weave them into a coherent message, Justin also helped me to be a better teacher, trainer, facilitator and keynote speaker.

As a result of our collaboration, I am more organized in my thinking, more focused on working backward from the outcome I want to achieve and therefore, better able to deliver a cohesive, memorable and valuable message to my audience. Having always described myself as a serial student and lifelong learner, I was thrilled with this discovery.

If you are considering writing a book, I highly encourage you to do so. People told me that new doors and opportunities would open that I didn’t expect and I have certainly seen that. And some of those will be opportunities for even more personal growth. Wow. As I said, sometimes, the unexpected benefit is the most meaningful.

My book, Becoming Deliberate: Changing The Game Of Leadership From the Inside Out, is now available for pre-order at your favorite online bookstore.