11/27/2013 12:26 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2014

How to Incorporate Gratitude for Greater Success

A few years ago when I was an environmental engineer, I received a card in the mail that made my week... no, actually made my month... maybe my year.

I had been working on a number of large projects with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and finally had an opportunity to meet the district's commanding officer. He had his pulse on all of the projects and had heard great things about my and my company's performance. We also chatted and discovered he was from a nearby state and we shared a number of cultural similarities. In short, we connected in a really genuine but completely professional way. A few days later, I received a lovely hand-written thank you note full of kind words and compliments from him.


I was floored that someone who was in charge of millions of dollars in projects and incredible responsibility had taken the time to show little old me such generous appreciation. It turns out; he was well known for that very thing. He was also extremely popular and liked by everyone, from his employees to his contractors. It's not because he made life easy for them, because he had extraordinarily high standards.

People did everything they could to rise to his standards because they wanted to please this man. They worked hard for him because he made them feel valued and respected. Why do you think he was promoted so quickly as an officer and was in such a high position of leadership?

His success can be directly attributed to his open expressions of gratitude.

Do you let people know when you are grateful?

I learned a huge lesson in life and business from that great Colonel. I try sending thank you cards and gift to clients and friends...sometimes for no reason other than the fact that they are in my life. Sure... I get busy and this practice slides, but then I am reminded about how good it makes me feel when one of my clients or friends shows me appreciation and I my gratitude practices are re-invigorated! I always express gratitude during my prayer and meditation, but the incredible people in my life need to hear it from ME!

Here are a few ideas on how you can express more gratitude and spread love and good will during this Thanksgiving season:

  • Send a surprise note or email to your best girlfriend, just thanking her for always being there. Let them know how much you appreciate and love them!
  • Send a book with a card to your best clients to let them know that you were thinking of them, thought they might enjoy the book, and that you appreciate the opportunity to work with them.
  • Express gratitude to your employer for providing you a great working environment.
  • Thank your kid's teachers for their nurturing, instruction, and guidance.
  • Thank your spouse for being such an amazing partner, parent, or provider in a love letter.
  • Write a letter to your parents to share with them all the ways they taught you to be a better person, or the ways they have positively impacted your life.
  • Show appreciation for everyone who makes your life easier by providing you services, from your dry cleaner and coffee barista to your hair stylist and package delivery people!

These are just a few ideas, and hopefully they spark a few thoughts for you. People love knowing that they are making a difference, and you can help spread love by showing and expressing appreciation! It's really just an expression of love. When you make people feel good - they will remember you. You will stand out and people will want to work more with you, so it's great for business too!

What are the best ways you've found to express gratitude? Please share!