And then something wonderful happens and you just feel better.
Yesterday morning, for example, Patti and I received the most wonderful note from an 80-year-old woman in our Church showing gratitude to us personally for all the ways we both quietly help our Church family flourish. We were both speechless.
Then, I happened to re-listen to Henry Winkler’s wonderful segment on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me. Winkler, whose Jewish parents emigrated from Berlin to our country in 1939, is known to many of us as Fonzie from Happy Days. He is regarded as one of the kindest people in television.
In this interview Winkler said, “I live by two words – tenacity and gratitude. Tenacity gets me where I want to go and gratitude doesn’t allow me to be angry along the way.”
“And gratitude doesn’t allow me to be angry along the way.” What great words to lead by?
You Can Lead With Kindness. A few years ago I wrote an article Can You Lead With Kindness and Get Results, which was inspired by General Colin Powell’s book It Worked for Me. In this book he writes about the importance of kindness in leadership.
General Colin Powell is often forgotten today, but to many of us he is well-known for rising to the highest level in the military, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also served as Secretary of State. General Powell first became famous 30 years ago by helping President George H. W. Bush deal with the Persian Gulf War, also called the Gulf War, when Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
Kindness Begins with How Leaders See People. General Powell wrote that for leaders to lead with kindness we must first see people as people, not objects. While this sounds basic, I see our current leaders making this mistake all the time. You and I need to make sure we do not fall into this trap.
If we see people as task doers and mechanisms to achieve outcomes or processes, we begin to see people as objects. When we do this, we are unlikely to treat them as people when mistakes happen, or outcomes are not hit. We begin to see them as a problem, and we treat them that way. We may label them or create derogatory names for them. A very few of us will bully them.
Three Reminders for How We Can Be More Thoughtful. First, shut-off watching politicians, who often are the most ungrateful group of people who can influence our behavior.
Next, we can reset or refresh our minds about being more thoughtful. In my article A Letter from Your Ego, I wrote how I really liked the six affirmations of gratitude by song-writer Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson in their book Gratitude and Trust. Here are their six affirmations:
- Something needs to change, and it’s probably me.
- I don’t know how to do this but something inside me does.
- I will learn from my mistakes and not defend them.
- I will make right the wrongs I’ve done whenever possible.
- I will examine my behavior on a daily basis.
- I will live in love and service, gratitude and trust
In his Ted Talk video called The Happy Secret to Better Work Achor talks about how we can train our brains to be positive. Based on his research he postulates that we can train our brain if we invest three minutes a day for 21 days in a row doing these five things:
- Think of 3 gratitudes from the last 24 hours. Ask why am I grateful?
- Using a daily journal, write down details about one gratitude (this positively trains the brain by reliving it.)
- Meditate – This helps us focus on the task at hand.
- Random act of kindness – Write one positive e-mail to someone every day. Giving helps you feel positive.
- Exercise – Teaches your brain that behavior matters.
If you are in a leadership role, think if you would want to follow you. I’ll bet you would if you showed gratitude.
So join me in changing the mindset of America and show gratitude to others. And remember what Henry “Fonz” Winkler says, “And gratitude doesn’t allow me to be angry along the way.”