I am an eternal student and am constantly reading anything I can get my hands on about things that interest me…travel, history, entrepreneurship, credit unions…you name it. Leadership is something about which I am always trying to learn more. Almost daily, an e-newsletter lands in my email box with article about great leadership, traits of successful people, how to be the most balanced person, but all of them have one thing in common: it’s all in the attitude.
We live in a culture of “always do more, always be more, always have more.” This culture causes us to “chase” things all the time – happiness through materialism, having more in our bank accounts, and showing everyone we know on social media our perfectly-taken selfie, new car, or seat in first class. It’s largely a “been there, done that” society around us. Ironically, many of us are ridiculously unhappy or unsatisfied with our lives, which bleeds into everything from our family relationships to our time at the credit union with our fellow employees.
This really hit home a couple of years ago when my husband and I were on a trip we’d been planning for over two years – our “trip of a lifetime” to Europe. We’re foodies, so I purchased what is, in my opinion, a very important book called “Paris for Food Lovers” because there was no way I was going to have a bad meal there.
Surprisingly, it said Le Jules Verne, which is the Michelin-starred restaurant on the Eiffel Tower, was one of the food and wine experiences you should definitely have once in your life. Our trip finally arrived and it was a stunning Parisian day…warm weather, popcorn clouds, and a cerulean blue sky. Donning the dressiest attire in our suitcases, we took the private elevator up and were seated at the best table in the house – overlooking the Seine and the right bank with a view of the Sacre Coeur, the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.
When our champagne arrived, I literally cried looking at the beautiful view and getting to be there with my partner-in-crime and favorite traveling companion, my husband. Shortly afterward, we overheard a loud conversation at the table next to us where a businessman and his girlfriend were eating. “All the buildings look the same. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. I’m ready to go somewhere else.”
I’ve thought of that man many times over the last two years since that day and experience that is one of the favorites so far of my life. Here we were having lunch at arguably one of the best restaurants in the word, in one of the most amazing places in the world, and he was so “over” it. I vowed that day that I would never let my life become a bunch of checkmarks. If all we do is go to the Grand Canyon and say “nice hole,” we’re missing out and what is the point to begin with?
This is one of several experiences over the last several years that have taught me to take gratitude seriously because it is the thing that truly makes life worthwhile no matter in what circumstances you may find yourself. Even on the worst day, we can always find something to be grateful for instead of focusing on what we don’t have. Being happy and content with where you are right now and focusing on the good things about right now can help you be a better leader, better friend, better coworker and/or boss, and better advisor to your members.
Studies have shown that there are many benefits to gratitude that impact your mind and body. But it doesn’t stop there. A 2016 study by HighPoint Insights shows that gratitude leads to things like increased productivity and creativity and a happier work environment. Moreover, the study found that companies with employees who practice gratitude actually outperform their peers.
What are you grateful for today?
How can your grateful attitude make you a better leader and help those around you?