Today’s post is the featured article from the November 2009 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription. 

john-newHappy Thanksgiving!  Today is my favorite Holiday of the year.  On the surface, I have some shallow reasons.  For instance, it is the kick-off of the Holiday Season … not like the finale on New Year’s Day.  Unless you are in retail, this Holiday sits on the front-end of a nice long weekend … unlike a Monday 4th of July where it is fireworks and then back to work.  And, unless you are the cook, it is a low-maintenance holiday with minimal expectations. You simply get to sit around, eat then eat some more … and enjoy those whom you are with. Thanksgiving demands little from you.  Which, on the surface, is why it has always been my favorite holiday of the year.  But beneath the surface, the real reason I love Thanksgiving is because of the one thing it does ask of you:

To stop … and be grateful.

I am grateful for gratitude. Think about it.  It has the power to change everything … and I mean everything!  It can change your perspective.  It can recharge your energy.  It can enrich most any relationship.  It is not surprising that gratitude is a slight variation from the word attitude.

Simply put … gratitude is an attitude.

I’m not talking about a shallow surface-level “thank you.”  I am talking about a deep meaningful value that drives you to see the world around you in a very different way.  To see all that is right … and that is good.  And even in a time of challenge or tragedy … to see the good that comes from it.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of seeing what’s wrong instead of what’s right.  It happens in families, it happens in companies, it happens in churches and it happens in countries.  The media thrives on what is wrong.  Many consultants make a living by it.

There is nothing wrong with having a keen awareness in seeing what is wrong.  Gratitude is not about a “blind-eye” to what is wrong.  But it does have everything to do in how we show-up and respond to what is wrong.  An attitude, grounded in a deep sense of gratitude, keeps our motives pure.  It keeps our vision clear.

I don’t know if I can ever remember seeing an organization list “gratitude” as a stated value.  

Imagine what it would look like if one did: 

GRATITUDE … We are grateful for those who have come before us to make this even possible.  We are grateful for our clients who are the reason we exist.   We are grateful for each other as we support one another and mutually develop each other through what we do and who we are.

Something tells me this value of GRATITUDE would genuinely impact customer service.  Think of how you feel when you are the customer and you sense a business genuinely appreciates your business.  Not a just a cliché thank you … but rather when they really mean it.  And without their own deep value of gratitude it is hard for them to really mean it.

Something also tells me this value of GRATITUDE would impact retention of your best people.  Employees appreciate being appreciated … and so do leaders.  Gratitude is at the heart of any community and it changes how a community, personal or professional, relates to one another.

The opposite of “gratitude” is “taken for granted.”  Taken to an extreme “taken for granted” leads to “entitlement” … which ultimately leads to destruction.

Which is why I am grateful for gratitude.  It is a value that builds value.   

And beneath all my surface level reasons … it is why I love this Holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving.   I hope it is a day filled with many wonderful things for you … but mostly that it is a day that reminds you how life can be richer when each day of your life is filled with a genuine sense of gratitude.