Bring magic to your life with gratitude.
Someone recently asked if I had any stress in my life. They went on to expand that I never seem to sweat things and have actually been given the nickname “Zen Jen.” My response: with ever increasing pipeline goals, three children 6 years old and younger and a spouse that is shaping the future of America – I got stress. One way I combat stress is by expressing thanks and showing gratitude. Research shows the more you give recognition (when it is actually deserved) you will lead a healthier, happier and less-stressed lifestyle.
A colleague in Europe shared her appreciation for how I “bring magic to the team.” What a flattering and kind compliment. I like to think of it this way: strong leaders mentor, encourage and empower teammates to go out and make the magic happen. Magic comes when you care about people – serve and empower them. It’s really that simple.
At a recent Quarterly Business Review (QBR), I ended my presentation with positive quotes I kept in my journal that sales reps had said about marketers on the team. Reminiscing on the good the team was empowered to do not only offered encouragement to the do-gooders but also encouragement for me on the results leaders get from the power of praise and expressing gratitude.
Expressing gratitude can lead to more optimism, but thankful people should never shy away from the negative. Robert Emmons, a gratitude researcher and psychology professor at the University of California, says that “while we often associate gratitude with focusing on the good and avoiding the bad, the key to leading a thankful life is embracing setbacks as part of your overall journey.” How do I interpret this and apply it in my leadership style? Celebrate the wins and analyze the losses. Losses are negatives that need to be embraced and learned from. Always keep your win count ahead of your loss count….but never fear losing or negative situations. Those situations make us wiser and drive us to be better.
Why write about gratitude? One chapter of my professional life is quickly coming to a close as I move on to another opportunity. I can’t help but reflect on the last three years and study what went well and what went not so well. Lately I’ve noticed I am becoming a slight hoarder. I keep things that many would probably trash. While cleaning out a desk drawer I found a stack of thank you notes from the last several years. Notes from vendors, friends and colleagues. Reading those cards reminds me how much empowerment and encouragement really does leave an impact. An impact that builds confidence levels, respect and trust amongst a team….amongst a family. Shining a light on gratitude will always take you further then dwelling on weaknesses. One thing I’ve recently changed in my vocabulary (thanks to John Gordon’s The Carpenter) is saying “I get to….” Instead of “I have to….” It is amazing how changing one little word in a phrase we use often can greatly impact how we view things and find appreciation in situations that may not always be ideal.
As I embark on a new adventure later this month I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am thankful for a family that has supported my career progression. I am thankful for leaders giving me opportunities to grow and expand my skills. I am thankful for my inner circle of professionals (that has grown in three years) that make me a better leader every day. I’d encourage you to express more gratitude and I guarantee you will see the magic unfold right before your eyes.