Business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.” ~ Warren Buffett
Simple is more effective.
One of the most simple practices I’ve used to take control of my business and my life in this is gratitude.
I used to think that gratitude was something that was satisfying or brought me joy.
Then I discovered I had it wrong.
Gratitude doesn’t come last. It can come first.
A gratitude practice can cause satisfaction, wellness, and joy.
Yeah, the business guy is talking about joy. But why not?
Don’t we deserve joy once in a while?
It’s not a spiritual thing
My gratitude practice has never been a spiritual or metaphysical quest for a higher state of being.
I started it on the advice of my coach at one of the lowest points in my professional life.
I figured, “what the heck, I’ve got nothing to lose”.
It was difficult at first. And after a while, I started to feel the difference.
Differences I later learned are supported by scientific studies, like:
- Lower stress
- Better ability to deal with overwhelm
- Sleeping better (because it had become pretty elusive)
- More focus to work my way out of the situation I was in
- Improved resilience to roll with the punches
- Improved relationships – which helped to lower stress.
- Giving myself space to have fun – and appreciate it.
A gratitude practice is a really simple idea.
But it doesn’t mean it’s easy to adopt or maintain so you get the benefits I found.
Luckily the critical thinking skills that make you a successful executive can help you find the things you can be grateful for – even in the most difficult and unfortunate of times.
There are so many ways you can practice gratitude. Here are 4 simple steps to get you going.
- Commit. Simple things don’t work immediately. The real benefits come over time through consistent practice. Be prepared for some immediate wins, followed by backsliding, and then more progress. You are learning a new skill and you’re bound to fall down – just like my kids when they learned to ski. Don’t give up.
- Start, Imperfectly. Just start doing it. Right now. Take a deep breath. Think back on the last 24 hours. Identify a single thing you are grateful for. It could be a big thing, like a relationship, or something very simple. Don’t judge. Just identify. Keep it simple.
- Write it down. Getting your thoughts into writing makes them real and out of your head – which is a pretty busy place where stuff gets lost. When you write it down you will process it and remember more effectively. This practice has helped me through some of life’s most stressful times – and to remember some of the most joyous. Use paper. Yes, paper. Writing things by hand requires more engagement of your brain and physical systems which makes it more effective. And if you don’t like paper, use a stylus and a handwriting app on your tablet (I use Penultimate with Evernote). Or type it. Just do it.
- Share Your Gratitude. Make the effort to say “Thank You” regularly. It might be for little courtesies at the store or the delivery person. You could reach out and say thank you to a client for trusting you, or a referral source. Or a friend for just being there. What would it be like to make an intentional effort to say “thank you” in a sincere and genuine way, just three more times a day?
Prompts can help you get started if you are stuck. Here are some that I like and use:
- People. Start with family and think of one individual person and one thing you’re grateful for about them or your time together. You can do the same thing for friends, clients, referral sources. The list gets pretty long when you think about it.
- Places. Your home, or your community. Places you’ve traveled, vacations you’ve taken.
- Moments. Something you are looking forward to. A happy or satisfying memory. A time when you turned around a difficult situation. It could be a simple as the place where you enjoy your morning coffee.
- Your career. What you’ve accomplished. The people you’ve helped. What your job has allowed you to accomplish.
- Yourself. Your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Your relationship. Your ability to learn and solve problems. Your energy, passion, and presence.
I am grateful for the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives and in the businesses of my clients – and the people in my world. Maybe even my dear readers, like you.
The best part is that the people I work with all have the ability to achieve their goals.
And I get to be their guide, to help them do the work and find simple solutions so they can live the life they were meant to live.
“You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. Once you get there, you can move mountains”. – Steve Jobs
How will you simplify this week?