A Short Note of Gratitude

I am grateful. Grateful for all I have been given and all I will one day enjoy. I know, bigstock-Gratitude-32660405without any doubt, that I am the happy recipient of good luck, good timing and good friends in my work and life.

It strikes me as a bit odd that so much professional advice is predicated on self-promotion as the pathway to success. Not obnoxious self-promotion but self-promotion all the same. It goes something like this:

Don’t be afraid to let others know what you have done.

Take proper credit for your accomplishments.

Don’t wait for others to promote you, get there first.

Of course, no one should be timid about skills and successes. Yet where is that gentle nod toward what one has received and the inherent grace and maturity that acknowledgment of those gifts illustrates? A grace and maturity that creates deeper partnerships, freedom for new ideas and an open environment in which people work with more joy than calculation.

Chris Argyris, renowned business educator, spoke of people’s tendency to act according to four basic values:

  1. Maintaining unilateral control
  2. Maximizing winning and minimizing losing
  3. Suppressing negative feelings
  4. Acting as rational as possible

These values are profoundly self-focused and Argyris uses them to frame his concept of defensive reasoning – the idea that when something goes wrong, highly educated, successful professionals tend to look outside of themselves for reasons.

Conversely, when something goes right, the view turns inward. How limiting.

Because anyone who has spent time reflecting on the inordinately interconnected nature of existence sees the fluid connection between people, circumstance and situation. To not express gratitude in light of this is, well, rather boorish, in addition to cutting off sources of health, happiness and social advancement.

In 2001, UC, Berkeley created the Greater Good Science Center, thanks to the generosity of alumni Thomas and Ruth Ann Hornaday. The Center is dedicated to the understanding and advancement of the study of gratitude and compassion on the body, mind and spirit of individuals and society. It’s launched fellowship programs, studies and programs like the Gratitude Project.

The project is proving, again and again, that gratitude not only brings powerful individual benefits, it spurs productivity and supports progress. It soothes the innate drive to focus too sharply on oneself. Gratitude creates proper balance in the world.

Imagine a company where gratitude was encouraged, even expected. A place where people felt pride for what they brought to bear and equally aware of what had been given to them. A company in balance.

A company unstoppable, I would venture.

And it could come to life through such simple means: open acknowledgment of the good works of others, time spent reflecting on the gifts one has received, an expectation that no achievement is singular.

Deceptively simple but as potent as a shot of whiskey. And who wouldn’t be grateful for that?

 

2 Comments

  1. Spot on. It’s unfortunate how anemic the corporate experience is for most people, particularly when the course of treatment is so deceptively simple. We so often confuse traditional corporate rewards with what people really crave – a sincere expression of gratitude.

    Kristina, thanks for your gift of thoughtful and thought-provoking blogs.

    “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” (William Arthur Ward)

  2. Paul Dobrowolski October 7, 2013 Reply

    The author has left God out of this discussion of gratitude. Without gifts and grace from our Creator and the gift of life, we are nonexistent.

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