This is an excerpt from The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.
If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
– Oprah Winfrey
Oftentimes we become so focused on fixing problems and resolving issues that our entire sense of reality shifts. We begin to live in a bubble that encompasses the negative and blocks the positive. Because they demand our attention, the negative aspects of work and life consume a disproportionate amount of our thinking, and eventually distorts our perceived reality.
You can re-center your perspective by grounding yourself in thanks for what is good with you or your team. What are you thankful for? Think about your health, your relationships, your business success. There will be more to be thankful for than you realize. Use a few minutes in the shower each morning, the first few minutes of your meditation, or even the first few minutes of each staff meeting to identify specific people and situations to be thankful for. Try to say thanks to at least one person each day, meaning fully and mindfully. Even better, write someone a thank you note by hand. Make it a self-sustaining habit, a routine.
I have much to be thankful for: my parents teaching me the joy of learning, which eventually led me to discover Lean and Zen; my wife teaching me how to be more compassionate, which has completely changed my perspective on life; and business partners and associates that have put up with some of my wild ideas.
Reflecting on gratitude at the beginning and end of each day creates calm bookends to what can be chaos for me. As problem solvers, we are naturally predisposed to focus on the negative, taking for granted the positive to the extent that we often become oblivious and unaware of just how much positive there is in our lives. Intentionally focusing on gratitude brings that perspective back to reality. Expressing gratitude in daily life, complimenting and helping others, or just smiling, reinforces the power of being thankful. Intentionally finding gratitude every day, has changed my perspective on life more than any other personal or professional leadership habit. I’ve discovered I have a lot to be thankful for, which helps me be more generous, sympathetic, and empathetic.