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Express Gratitude for Where You Are Right Now, and Say It Out Loud

This past weekend, I took my family to watch the U.S. Navy’s Blue
Angels aerobatic flight demonstration squadron at the State of Maine air
show. As the son of a World War II fighter pilot, I grew up an Air
Force brat and went to air shows every year. My father loved to talk
about the Blue Angels as a model of excellence, and as a college coach I
modeled my team’s post-game debriefs after the Blue Angels’.
also a lot an entrepreneur can learn from the Blue Angels too: most
important is its members’ mindsets. After each exhibition, the pilots
and the crew conduct a debriefing of the team’s performance. All
debriefs begins with a self-assessment by each pilot, who then concludes
their comments with the phrase, “Glad to be here.”
Those four
words aren’t a simple slogan or cliche, it’s a mindset. If you’re
wondering what you could possibly have in common with an aerobatic
flight team, it’s that there’s a strong correlation between gratitude
and high performance. An attitude of gratitude isn’t simply a thought,
it’s an action and a mindset.
No matter how poor the performance, if you can express your gratitude
out loud, you don’t just remind yourself, you are reinforcing that
attitude for everyone around you. According to the HeartMath Institute,
our feelings of the heart actually radiate beyond our bodies, can be
detected by others and affect people up to five feet away.
one thing to think a thought and another to say it out loud. Speaking
our beliefs not only facilitates retention by involving more senses, it
also enhances the courage of our convictions. Thinking something vs.
saying that thought out loud is the difference between potential and
reality. Thoughts are fleeting. Words are permanent.
Imagine how
the dynamics of your team meetings might transform for the better if
each member gave an honest self-assessment, holding him or
herself accountable and ended it by expressing gratitude for your team’s
mission and his or her ability to play a role in it.
What an
attitude of gratitude serves to do is get rid of what’s in our way
emotionally: our thinking. Most often what my clients say is getting in
their way is the thought that they should be further along in their
careers. I call this attitude “destination disease.” You’re not grateful
for where you are in the present moment. Don’t look at how far you have
left to go, instead be grateful for how far you’ve come.
When we
stop feeling like we should be further along in our careers and simply
focus on being glad to be here — wherever here may be — it frees up a
great deal of energy and focus. Energy, ironically, we can actually use
to advance our careers.
We need to talk to ourselves and our
teammates from a place of gratitude because negativity makes everything
worse. When I started thinking about my business differently, keeping a
gratitude journal and sharing that gratitude out loud directly with
others, it improved my thought patterns and those thought patterns
improved my results.
Seeing the Blue Angels this weekend was the kick in the pants I
needed to recommit to extending this practice beyond my business into my
personal life. We are trying to sell
our house and it has felt like a burden, to the point where I haven’t
been “glad to be here” and lately have had very little appreciation for
the beauty of my present surroundings, opting instead to look towards
our destination.
The problem with destination disease is that so
often when you want something to happen very badly and it finally
happens, you come to the realization that you’re actually still
miserable. It’s like the greyhound at the dog track chasing the rabbit.
One day the rabbit breaks, comes to a grinding halt and the dog actually
catches it, only to realize the rabbit he was so desperately chasing
for so long wasn’t really all what it appeared to be from a distance.
That dog never races with the same vigor again.
So often I see
clients who are just like the greyhound. They want so desperately to
“get to the next level” they forget to enjoy the chase. When they reach
their destination they still feel frustrated and miserable.
you’re chasing the destination and think “there” is bound to be better
than “here,” it becomes impossible to be glad and you miss the moments
along the journey. You won’t magically become happy when you reach the
destination, but you can be glad to be right where you are.
attitude of gratitude is also a reminder for your team that what you’re
doing is a privilege, not a right. When I was coaching, my
student-athletes were well aware that less than 2 percent of that
population earn the privilege of playing a college sport. Sometimes we,
and our employees, can take our opportunities for granted. An attitude
of gratitude also serves to protect the culture by keeping the energy in
the room positive and focused on the opportunity in the face of
The Blue Angels fly $30-million 22-ton
aircrafts upwards of 1,000 mph approximately three feet away from
each another. If they take their focus off the journey even for a
moment, results are compromised and lives are potentially endangered. In
their phrase, “glad to be here,” the keyword is here. We can all stand
to learn a lesson or two about being more present in the moment and
grateful for the challenges and opportunities on our journeys.
Make no mistake about it, the journey is everything.

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