A Coffee Break of Inspirational Leadership: Gratitude

Here it is – another Monday is upon us. What are your goals for this week?

This week’s theme is “gratitude.”

And was I fortunate when it comes to my commitment to practicing gratitude. I grew up as part of the Youth Focus program out at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds and learned early on the role of gratitude. As a leader in that program, we were always reminded to “write and practice gratitude.” After every event, I wrote thank you notes. Every time I was handed the microphone, I was commending the leadership, singing and dancing skills of others. And I was thanking parents for supporting our participation in a fabulous program that really taught us about being a well-rounded young person, practicing gratitude.

As I aged and became a principal, that commitment to gratitude didn’t stop. I wrote thank you notes to my staff constantly. Then I realized I could get even more mileage with parents. After every event, more thank you notes. The night of my very first Los Alamitos walk-a-thon I think I wrote out over 100 postcards of gratitude.

But it didn’t stop there. If I could make a difference with parents and staff, what about students? I kept a log and made a point of writing notes of gratitude to each and every student….at least three times each year. That was close to 2,000 postcards for my elementary wee ones.

Gratitude isn’t just about telling others. I’ve learned to reframe my own thinking with an app called “My Gratitude Journal” by Happy Tapper. Each morning before I get out of bed, I log at least five things I’m grateful for along with a photo from the day before. I relish the quiet time of each morning, starting my day with an act of thanks. I have to say….it feels good to start my day like this.

I’m also teaching my twin daughters the same routines with gratitude, although the practice began as early as they could hold a pencil or crayon. The need to write their own thank you notes for gifts was our way of letting loved ones know that we were….well….grateful.

I still write thank you notes. I love snail mail…and putting in the post a note that pens my thoughts and gratitude. Am I the only one? Do you practice acts of gratitude?

As promised, each of these blog posts will have some core components for further exploration, so explore away.

The website, Happify Daily, recently shared a great article about how the science behind happiness is tied to gratitude. Its a must read! 

Years ago at a California School Boards Association Conference, one of the most inspiring speakers graced the stage in front of close to 5,000 attendees. Guessing that maybe you weren’t there….but now you can see him without heads of others in the way. Click on “watch it” to see Shawn Achor and his Happiness Ted Talk.

Take a look…..

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I love to take images that I find online and turn them into note cards. I take a blank powerpoint slide and put four images on a page so they are easy to size and cut down into note cards that fit into small envelopes. I then carry them around in my briefcase so I can write a note of gratitude any time I see something I want to acknowledge at work, or when I want someone to know they are appreciated.

Print in color on cardstock….practically free! Here are a couple to consider….and to give frequently. Its up to us to make sure others feel safe, secure, inspired, and supported. Perhaps one of these is exactly what someone needs. So will you try practicing gratitude this way too?

What if you could share this with someone? Tell them that you are grateful!

See you next week!