During this time of year we tend to focus our thoughts on the importance of gratitude and while that usually centers on being thankful for things in our personal lives, practicing the art of gratitude is also good for our entrepreneurial souls.
A focus on gratitude can improve our physical and emotional health as well as our productivity, creativity and even our overall business. In order to truly reap both the personal and professional benefits of being thankful, we need to begin weaving acts of gratitude into our daily business routine.
Where do you start? Here are three ways you can begin practicing gratitude in your business:
Keep a Journal of Challenges
At the end of each day, write down three things that challenged you: a tough customer service experience, a presentation that didn't go as expected, etc. Instead of focusing on the failure of the challenge, focus on the opportunity that it has presented and spend some time brainstorming possible solutions. "Adopting a gratitude practice takes you out of a problem and toward a solution," writes Adam Toren. "It removes you from complaining mode and into a best-outcomes mindset."
Write Letters of Thanks
When was the last time you received a handwritten note from a customer, mentor or business partner? In today's fast moving world of technology it is easier for us to send a quick email or text to thank someone for the afternoon meeting but when we take the time to actually write down the words it gives us pause; a time to reflect on what this person really means to us and our business. Make a goal to send five handwritten notes of thanks at the end of each week. At least one of those notes should be to someone who has impacted your life or your business in a big way, even if that means you haven't talked to him or her in awhile. Taking the time to thank those who have helped us succeed allows us to recognize our milestones and be reminded of the true mission of our business.
Spend Time with Employees
The greatest asset of my company is my employees -- and I make sure they know this to be true. While telling employees "thank you" or giving them a bonus is a nice way to recognize them for their accomplishments, spending time with them will make them feel valued. "High performing companies are made up of high performing leaders who engage their people," says TNS Employee Insights. Focus on having one meaningful conversation with each of your direct reports every week -- invite him or her to coffee, chat in the break room, Skype while waiting at the airport. This small action will improve employee relationships and give you great insight into your company.
I once read that gratitude and fear cannot exist at the same time -- a great thought for those of us who are entrepreneurs. While we are somewhat programmed to focus on what is broken or lacking in our businesses, shifting our attitude towards being thankful fills us with hope and opens us up to new opportunities for success. What are you grateful for?