Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Machu Picchu, Peru

September 2010

When you receive this, I'll be in Machu Picchu, Peru, with my dear friend Andrew. This trip has been on both of our "bucket lists." Bucket list is a term that came into popular vernacular after the 2007 Rob Reiner film The Bucket List. It details all those things you'd like to do before you "kick the bucket."

In 2010, I've ticked off two items from my bucket list: this trip and living in New York. How about you? How many have you checked off this year?

There's a little more than three months left in 2010. Join me and see if you can check off at least one more item from your bucket list. Let's make the most of each and every day we have.  

This month, we'll explore how to create an attitude of gratitude.

Creating an Attitude of Gratitude

Maybe you've noticed: I post a gratitude on Facebook each morning. My habit has created quite a buzz. In fact, a reporter friend called this year to interview me on why expressing gratitude is important and how it can help us succeed in business. Our conversation went something like this:

"Do you remember the old adage that you can see a glass as half empty or half full?" I asked.

"Sure," she responded.

"Well, that's a choice you and I make every day. Think about it: it's the same glass, only the perspective is different."

"That makes sense," she said. "So how can it help us in the workplace?"

"Who do you think is going to be the most productive employee, the one who sees the glass as almost full or the one who sees it as almost empty?"

"The one who sees it as almost full, of course," she answered. 

"Norman Vincent Peale got it right when he wrote The Power of Positive Thinking. When we tap into higher emotions, such as empathy, love, and gratitude we access our best selves. We are kinder, happier, and more productive. And who would you rather be around, the person who is kinder, happier, and more productive, or the person who is so negative that he or she literally sucks the air out of the room?"

She laughed, and I continued. "Don't get me wrong. Practicing the power of positive thinking doesn't mean I'm positive all the time. There are plenty of times I feel angry, sad, or lonely. When these emotions emerge, I try to feel them and not wallpaper over them. I've learned the hard way that if I don't, they'll just pop up later, and sometimes at some pretty inappropriate times."

"Such as...?" she probed. "Just ask my partner," I said, and rolled my eyes.

"What else?" she asked.

"I'm also very conscious of remembering to say 'I'm feeling sad,' instead of 'I am sad.' I am not my emotions; they are only temporary states, and like most states they pass."  

"Okay. What suggestions do you have for expressing gratitude?" Our time was almost up; she was wrapping up the interview.

"Be intentional. You don't have to post a gratitude publicly like I do, but start a ritual of listing what and who you are grateful for. Do it first thing in the morning, before a meal, or right before you go to bed at night. Make it a habit, and you'll create an attitude of gratitude."