The Key to a Joyful Life: Embracing Gratitude

In a world filled with challenges and uncertainties, happiness often feels like a distant dream. But what if I told you that you already possess one of the most powerful tools for unlocking a joyful life? It’s called gratitude, and it has the remarkable ability to transform your perspective and lead you down a path to a happier existence.

The Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude is a simple, yet profound, emotion. It’s the art of recognizing and appreciating the good things in life, no matter how big or small. When we cultivate gratitude, we unlock a world of possibilities, allowing us to see the silver lining even in the darkest clouds.

Shifting Perspective

Embracing gratitude is like changing the lens through which you view the world. It shifts your perspective from what you lack to what you have – from what’s wrong to what’s strong! Gratitude is not about ignoring life’s challenges, but about choosing to still acknowledge and appreciate the beauty and blessings surrounding you. As your perspective shifts, you’ll discover that even in difficult times, there is always something to be grateful for.

A Positive Ripple Effect

The power of gratitude doesn’t stop at your own happiness; it extends to those around you. When you express gratitude, it not only uplifts your spirit but also spreads positivity to others. Your grateful heart becomes contagious, inspiring a ripple effect of joy and kindness to those in your sphere of influence.

How can you cultivate gratitude?


Keep a Gratitude Journal

Each day, write down a few things you're grateful for. It could be a breathtaking sunset, a kind word from a friend, or a warm cup of tea on a chilly morning. Challenge yourself to look for something new every day!


Mindful Moments

Slow down. Be present in your daily life. Notice the beauty in the ordinary. Savor those crazy moments when you're rushing your kids out the door in the morning for school. Relish the sound of laughter around you. Appreciate receiving (and giving back) a smile.


Share Your Gratitude

Express your appreciation to those who make your life brighter. A simple "thank you" can go a long way in strengthening relationships and creating a positive atmosphere.


Learn from Challenges

Even in adversity, there are lessons to be grateful for. These challenges can shape you into a stronger, wiser, and more resilient individual.

Living a Life of Abundance

Gratitude is the gateway to a life of abundance, not in terms of material possessions, but in terms of joy, fulfillment, and inner peace. When you recognize the richness of the present moment, you’ll find that you have more than you ever imagined.

So, let’s commit to embracing gratitude every day. Let’s choose to see the beauty in the world around us, to appreciate the love and support of those we hold dear, and to focus on the positive aspects of our lives. In doing so, we’ll unlock the door to a life filled with happiness, contentment, and boundless joy. Remember, the key to a happy life is right in your heart: gratitude.

Coaching Challenge

How grateful are you?  Check out the following Personal Gratitude Self-Assessment to discover  opportunities to exercise and experience more gratitude in your life.

Be Kind to Yourself

Leadership presents a rollercoaster of triumphs and trials. Like everyone else, they are not immune to a missed deadline, underwhelming projects or a personal challenge that has disrupted their schedule. These moments can leave us feeling disheartened and even cause us to question our abilities. Yet, in these crucial moments, the most adept leaders embrace self-compassion.
Here are 10 healthy ways to address setbacks that will improve your resiliency and impact as a leader:

Acknowledge the Setback

The first step in practicing self-compassion as a leader is acknowledging the setback. Accept that setbacks are an inevitable part of the journey, and they offer valuable lessons. Refuse to deny or ignore the issue; instead, confront it head-on.

Avoid Self-Criticism

As leaders, we can be our harshest critics. Shift the focus. Embrace setbacks as opportunities for growth, acknowledging fallibility. Consider each setback a lesson propelling your journey toward becoming a more adept leader.

Embrace Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is a vital tool for leaders. Take time to understand and analyze factors that led to the setback. Please don't focus on placing blame; it's more about learning and growing as a leader.

Seek Support

Leaders often have a network of colleagues, mentors, and friends who can provide support and guidance. Sharing your challenges with others can offer fresh perspectives, facilitating your personal and professional growth.

Set Realistic Expectations

Leaders often set high standards for themselves, sometimes leading to disappointment when things don't go as planned. Being kind to yourself means setting realistic goals and expectations and understanding that not everything will always go perfectly as planned.

Focus on What You Can Control

Make sure to direct your energy wisely. Instead of fixating on the uncontrollable, channel your efforts into areas you can influence, allowing for proactive progress despite setbacks.

Prioritize Self-Care

While leaders are renowned for their diligence, self-care isn't a weakness. Prioritize self-care activities that help you relax and refresh your mind, body, and spirit, such as exercise, meditation, journaling, engaging in a hobby, or spending time with loved ones.

Learn, Adapt, and Embrace Change

Leadership is an evolving journey and an ongoing voyage. Use setbacks as opportunities to learn and adapt. Exceptional leaders constantly evolve and transform, demonstrating resilience in adversity.

Embrace Resilience

Resilience defines exceptional leadership. Harness it to rebound from setbacks, channeling newfound determination. Remember, setbacks are a mere pause (not a dead-end) on your journey towards success.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Embrace the victories, no matter how small. Celebrating these milestones fuels your confidence and drive, reinforcing your ability to overcome obstacles more easily.
Navigating the challenges of leadership often involves encountering setbacks. Yet, within these trials lie pivotal opportunities for personal growth and development. By fostering self-compassion, prioritizing self-care, and extracting valuable lessons, leaders can strengthen their resilience while elevating their capacity to inspire teams and drive long-term success.

Coaching Challenge

Harnessing your strengths is a powerful tool for resilience, enabling learning and growth during challenging times.

Reflect on how your strengths have helped you succeed in the past. Think specifically about how you can aim your strengths to pave a clear and successful path forward. What will you choose to think (believe), feel, and do differently instead of listening to the harsh critic in your head?

Remember, being kind to yourself is not a sign of weakness but a sign of a wise and compassionate leader.

Extraordinary Personal and Team Payoffs of a Strengths Culture

In your family there are certain values, beliefs, attitudes, rules and behaviors that are taught, demonstrated, and nurtured in order to help your children grow into responsible adults. In addition to those family values, there are behaviors that are considered dealbreakers. Certain behaviors are simply unacceptable. These values, beliefs, attitudes, rules, and behaviors define your “family culture” and, over time, the “family” becomes quite clear about the things that are most important.

This concept of creating a “team culture” works the same way. But, first, the leader must be clear about those values, attitudes and behaviors that are important to the team’s success. Believing that everyone is uniquely wired with extraordinary “super powers” that equips them to make a remarkable impact on the team, is the driving motivation for incorporating strengths-based development into your team’s culture! 

If you haven’t thought much about your team culture, here’s your first opportunity to make a significant shift in your leadership!

But … defining, developing, and demonstrating your culture takes great clarity; the leader must ‘lead’ the team by demonstrating these values, attitudes, and behaviors; and, the leader must be consistent in communicating, nurturing, and holding the team accountable to these values.

In order to integrate (and sustain) a Strengths initiative within your team, you must first do some reflection, which  will create an emotional connection to the benefits and payoffs of a strengths culture that will inspire, drive, and motivate you as you meet resistance.

Just know this … you can count on it … be assured … There. Will. Be. Resistance.

You will encounter resistance from yourself as you wonder if what you’re doing is working and is it really worth it the effort. Resistance from others as you challenge them to think and do things differently. Resistance because the team simply doesn’t understand how important this is to you and the ultimate success of the individuals and the team. Resistance because the team doesn’t understand that you believe and are committed to developing, utilizing, and celebrating every ounce of strength sitting at that conference table. Resistance simply because some people are WIRED to slow down, question and analyze before taking action.

When you encounter resistance, it doesn’t mean your efforts aren’t working!  It just means “this is normal.”

Remember, a strengths approach to leading a team is a game changer! It affects every conversation in the office. Excellence becomes the new norm. The team demonstrates higher levels of emotional intelligence as they seek to develop strategic partnerships with other team members. Increased personal and team accountability are the outcomes.

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge 

Carve out 15 minutes on your schedule today and write your answers (free flow) to the five questions below. Don’t over think your answers or dismiss an idea as silly or unrealistic, or even stop before the 15 minutes is up. Push yourself to write down as many answers as possible in the allotted time.

Here are the five questions: 

  1. What are the benefits or payoffs for the team once we successfully integrate Strengths into our culture?
  2. What successful outcomes would I hope to achieve? (Be specific)
  3. Fast forward 6 to 12 months after you have successfully integrated Strengths into your culture. Get a clear picture of your team (individually and collectively) operating in their Strengths Zone … together. What problems am I currently facing that have been resolved?
  4. As the leader of a stronger, higher-performing team, what benefits or personal payoffs am I (the leader) experiencing as a result?
  5. If I don’t integrate Strengths into my team’s culture, what is the result?

The final step in this challenge is to create a one-page Strengths Vision Board that focuses on the desired successful outcomes for yourself and your team. Post this somewhere close where you can see and refer back to it often!

Making this emotional connection to specific successful outcomes is exactly what will inspire and motivate you through the expected challenges and resistance. Otherwise, any organizational initiative you try to adopt, as positive as it may be, will fail.

When it Comes to Feedback, Delivery is Everything!

People often have a negative reaction to “feedback” because, over the years, the message was sent but not received, let alone understood. For a variety of reasons, the feedback was often too vague, too direct, too punative, too one-sided, and the list goes on and on. The result? 

Good Feedback + Bad Delivery = Negative Reaction and No Improvement

This has to change because, as Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, the knowledge of the “whole,” the experience of the “whole,”  the wisdom of the “whole,” is greater (more valuable) than that of a single person on a team. That makes practical sense, right?

So it’s not giving feedback that we need to do away with but rather we need to work on our delivery of the feedback. A bad reaction to feedback is not an employee problem, it’s a leadership problem. 

When giving feedback, great leaders check their motives at the door. They take themselves out the equation and do what is in the best interest of the team or team member. They’re not focused on what’s easiest, but what’s effective. They’re not focused on what they want, but what the team member needs. 

Here’s what I propose. Rather than focusing on the “feedback process,” as if there’s actually a “one size fits all” approach, we focus on defining the “successful outcome.” 

As leaders, what can we do differently to deliver feedback in a way that influences a positive reaction and a successful outcome? 

This is one of those times when you a leader has to turn off “auto pilot” and be very intentional about delivering a clear message, clarifies the best way to deliver the message based on the unique personality and needs of the individual, and is always striving for a positive feedback experience and outcome. 

Good Feedback + Good Delivery = Positive Reaction and Improved Performance

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Feedback Challenge

  1. Think about a specific person in which you need/would like to share feedback. (Think PP — positive feedback or performance feedback. Please do away with the phrase “constructive feedback!”) 
  2. Clarify the most important action you want them to take. Instead of telling them what to do, how can you lead them to the best solution by asking them questions? Asking is much more effective at inspiring people to take action because they think it is their solution, not yours. 
  3. Based on what you know about that individual, what can you do differently to deliver that message in a way that inspires that individual to take action? Be specific and think about positive behaviors that would inspire a positive outcome. 
  4. Is there anything else you can do differently to influence a favorable reaction and positive outcome?
  5. Now, go have this feedback conversation! Remember, this doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out conversation. Feedback conversations are most effective when they are short and sweet.

Transformational Leaders are Extremely Caring …

Valentine’s Day is this week and it reminds me of the importance of expressing gratitude and

appreciation within our teams, families, and communities. As a leader, these leadership skills address a very important question on the minds of your followers: Do you care about me? Do you care about my struggles? Do you care about my results? Do you care about my successes? Do you care about me as a person?

When it comes to showing appreciation in the workplace some leaders are so concerned about “over appreciating” and appearing “soft” that they don’t express their gratitude or appreciation at all.

Pete Luongo says it best! “The most transformational leaders are extremely caring and extremely demanding.” You don’t have to trade one for the other. You can be both. You can have high expectations AND care about your team at the same time.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, when employees feel like their supervisor, or someone else at work, cares about them they are more likely to: experiment with new ideas, share information, support coworkers personally and professionally, give their manager (and coworkers) the benefit of the doubt, feel equipped to strike a balance between their work and personal lives, and be advocates for their employer.

This week, I want you to look for MORE opportunities to say “Thank You.” If a team member does or says something kind (and you wish everyone else would do more of that), take the time to express your appreciation.

The goal of this Challenge is not to tell you HOW to show appreciation to others but, rather, to get you to JUST DO IT! And do it again! And do it again! And do it as often as it is warranted throughout this week!

Are you in? Are you up for the #ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge? If so, SHARE a specific experience in the StrengthsBuilders Community and/or the Strengths-Based Leadership Tribe and you will be entered into the monthly drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card!

#strongleaders #strongfamilies #strongcommunities #strongteams #bestrong #2020strong #strengthsbuilders #strongfeedback

Flip the Feedback Script!

As we kick off this month’s featured topic, instead of always thinking of feedback as “GIVING FEEDBACK,” let’s flip the script!

Instead of looking for opportunities to GIVE FEEDBACK this week … I think we should develop the discipline of ASKING for feedback!

Whether you are a leader, team member, parent, or community volunteer, asking others for their feedback is a great way for you to take control of your personal development. Feedback from “key stakeholders” (i.e., trusted colleagues, your children, other volunteers) not only equips you with meaningful insights of where and how you can improve, it also helps to build trust and strengthen important relationships. Asking others for feedback also reinforces the importance of “teamwork” — that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the opportunity to receive meaningful feedback:

  1. What exactly do you want to know? When asking for feedback, be specific. EXAMPLE: “Hey! I would like to get better at ‘x.’ I really value your feedback and was wondering if you would share with me … “
  2. Practice asking for just ONE THING. Asking for too much feedback can defeat the purpose. Set yourself up for success by making the feedback forward-focused and managable. EXAMPLE: “Hey! I would like to get better at ‘x.’ I really value your feedback and was wondering if you would share with me ONE THING I could do better …”
  3. Clarify the “desired outcome.” When asking for feedback, don’t focus on a “job responsibility” or task (i.e., public speaking, organizing an event) but, rather, focus on the “desired outcome” (i.e., engaging more quickly with my audience, increasing the engagement at my events). EXAMPLE: “Hey! I would like to get better at ‘x.’ I really value your feedback and was wondering if you would share with me ONE THING I could do better that would help me close a prospective client faster?”
  4. Once someone shares meaningful feedback with you, don’t forget to say Thank You! EXAMPLE: Thank you so much! This feedback is extremely valuable to me. I appreciate your support and willingness to share. This is priceless!”  

Final thought. As you are learning how to effectively “ask” for feedback, your colleagues are learning how to effectively “give” feedback. During the conversation, be fluid and learn to actively navigate the “ask” so that you get feedback that is meaningful and truly equips you to achieve excellence!

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge: Who’s up for the challenge of asking for feedback this week? Once you complete the #ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge, SHARE your experience in the StrengthsBuilders Community or the Strengths-Based Leadership Tribe to enter a monthly drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Make sure you use #strongfeedback when posting your experience!