3 – Attitude to Gratitude

Success can often be a lonely journey to achieve and there are many bumps along the way but there is a really powerful psychological tool that I have found makes a huge difference to how we see our world. And as we shift our attitude to our world with an attitude for gratitude then somehow the pathway to success seems smoother.

One of the tools that I was introduced to by the Sandler Sales Training Process was something they call an “Gratitude Journal”.  The key thing is to look at what you can be grateful for every single day… and to write it down. Writing it down has a powerful effect on moving it from a thought into an action and building that muscle memory and the mind memory of repeatedly doing it so that you strengthen the gratitude neural pathway. Some people also speak it out loud.

What does an attitude journal look like?

To my mind, there are four things you need to offer gratitude for every day.

Gratitude for a good thing that has happened.

However small, identifying the good thing that has happened to you in the last 24 hours.  It could be somebody being kind to you. It could be something that was a success.  It could be something about how you are feeling.  It could even be the weather or a nice meal you had.  However small, there is always something that you can give gratitude for.  On those days when it’s a much bigger thing then make sure you don’t miss it.

Gratitude for the opportunities that you have

It is very easy to be bogged down by limiting beliefs around what the opportunity is that you have.  But as you build your success, often the opportunity that you need to move to the next level of success can be quite small.  Being grateful for the number of opportunities that are out there to frame that attitude to opportunity is extremely important.  This is particularly important when you are being knocked back when a particular opportunity doesn’t convert into the outcome you hope for.

Let me give you a concrete example. Let us say that the success you are looking for is to find one more client.  Gratitude for the opportunity is to consider the whole scale of the opportunity for clients.  It maybe that in the UK you know that there are 1000’s of possible clients that could benefit from your services. Or you know that the market for your services is 10s of £millions and all you are looking for is £5-100k. Now you are reframing your opportunity and offering gratitude for the scale of your opportunity.  You may have to be quite creative in finding something around that opportunity for which you can be grateful.  However, looking at total scope of opportunities that are accessible because of who you are.   Consider, “I am someone with these skills, and this experience and this particular knowledge which gives me opportunities”. By being grateful for your skills, knowledge and experience you are strengthening your awareness of your own worth.

Gratitude for your environment

The third thing to be grateful for is something around your environment. Perhaps the people that are around you, perhaps the setting you are living in, the village, town or city you are a part of.

Gratitude about who you are.

We can often fail to be grateful for ourselves. We can fail to recognise the strengths that we have.  Putting into your gratitude journal something about being grateful about who you are, you are affirming your own identity beyond the circumstances that you may face.

Building the Gratitude Journaling Habit

There are a few tips around how you write your attitude journal.  The items above are possible items you can have gratitude for.  However, it is very easy for it just to become a thoughtless rote exercise.  The risk is you just copy and paste from what you had the day before. This really undermines the power of the process.  I would suggest that you examine each of these four categories. Now think of what you could be grateful for today.  Maybe it is something you haven’t been grateful for recently. Or something for which you can be grateful for the first time. Even, if it is something that you’ve been grateful for in the past I would strongly recommend that you reword it so that you’re having to think about it.

To strengthen your habit, find between 2-4 people who you can share your gratitude journal with.  Encourage them to do a gratitude journal that they share with you.

Now you have promised to send your gratitude journal out to others, you may also have the encouragement of the gratitude journals they send you. Often they will offer you feedback on your gratitude journal.  It’s a great way of being connected and feeling amongst other people going on their journey with you.

Gratitude Beyond the Journal

In summary, do not underestimate the power of gratitude to be a key attitude for success.  A gratitude journal is a great way of offering it.  But the journal is not the only context in which you offer gratitude.  Making a habit of saying ‘thank you’ to people as you come across them during the day, will shift your own attitude to gratitude.  It will also create a better environment around you.  Be grateful to the people you live with; for those you serve; for those that you meet, in the shops.  In every circumstance seek to find opportunities to give thanks, to be grateful, and that positivity that you offer to others with be, in most cases, reflected back to you.

Sometimes a thank you is enough but often offering gratitude not just for what somebody has done but the way they’ve done it and even more powerfully, what about their identity makes that act something they can also be so grateful for.

Increasing Gratitude Power: What ->How->Who

Let me give you a simple example. I could say to somebody:

“Thanks for this food” – a very simple thanks for what they have done.

I could say:

“Thanks for serving this food with such a wonderful smile” – a simple thank for how they’ve done it.

Or most powerfully, I could say:

“Thank you for being a wonderful cook” – something about who they are.

The more powerful the offer of thanks you make, the stronger the positive connection you will get, the more connection you will feel, and this will enhance your whole mental attitude to your future.

We will talk in a later article about your attitude to failure. Gratitude is a powerful tool to avoid feeling like a victim of failure.

Summary

Develop the habit of a gratitude journal, share your gratitude journal with others and offer gratitude to those you meet graduating from gratitude for what to how to who.  Then notice how gratitude can be a powerful vaccination against the worst effects of failure.

Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.