I hope all of you U.S. readers had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. It is far and away my favorite American holiday. A holiday set aside by President Abraham Lincoln with the sole intention of expressing our gratitude. Our simple thanks for whatever we have to be thankful for this year. I think that’s why I love this day so dearly. Positive intention with no specified agenda. We’re all free to appreciate and give thanks to whatever is resonating in our hearts. It has such a different feel from every other U.S. national holiday.
All the other holidays seem to come with a preprogramed theme. Themes that can have some odd facets in our day and age. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a veteran and work with veterans coming home from war, but the Fourth of July can’t help but have a bit of a dark undertone to it. Even the celebratory element is a recreation of bombs bursting in air. Labor Day can’t help but have a somewhat ironic twist to it considering where we are today as we continue to experience a transformational shift in the labor markets and labor relations. Memorial Day is identified more with the official start of summer than its original intention. Columbus Day, Bunker Hill Day, Evacuation Day, Presidents Day (which morphed from Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday acknowledgements during my lifetime), MLK Day, all sit somewhat quietly on the national consciousness, albeit for the inevitable seasonal sell-a-thons.
I’m sure many of the various religious holidays ring deeply with the devout, and that can be beautiful beyond words. St. Patrick’s Day stands a bit apart, or at least attempts to upon the annual arrival of its associated, wobbly leg syndrome. I really don’t like snakes, so I’ll tip a glass to the man that rid my ancestral homeland of them! And I think we’re all a bit overwhelmed by the commercialization of Christmas. I had the chance to be in Cologne, Germany during the 750 anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral in mid December back in 2000. The Christmas Fair booths set up around the square featuring hand-crafted, German Christmas items was both charming and in proportion to the meaning of the season.
So as we come out of this holiday of gratitude I’d like to share two things with you. First, my heartfelt thanks to the thousands of readers that have been following this blog this year. Second, I’d like to share an excerpt from my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart, & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success”, that speaks to the value the consistent expression of gratitude can unleash within your organization. Carrying the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday throughout the year isn’t just a nice thing to do. It makes good business sense…and it doesn’t cost a dime.
~ “Thank You”
One of the simplest, yet most overlooked contributors to creating a positive culture is the expression of appreciation. Taking the time to say “thank you, you’re doing a great job” cost nothing and resonates positive intention throughout the entire organization. Acknowledgement in front of an associate’s peers can elevate this positive attitude to an even higher level.
Leadership is often quick to express their expectations and very slow to acknowledge a job well done. Expressing gratitude is a fundamental quality of conscious leadership. Gratitude for the contribution of others is another facet of empathy. It reflects leadership’s consciousness of our natural human desire for validation and appreciation. Even the most stressful of times in challenging environments can be relaxed through the expression of gratitude.
An empirical and remarkably fascinating example of the power of praise is illustrated in the research of Dr. Masaru Emoto.(28) In his research, Dr. Emoto exposes water to both the spoken and written word; words of praise as well as critical language. The water exposed to positive language is then frozen and results in the formation of beautiful, symmetric crystals. The water exposed to negative words freeze into deformed crystals. It is a fascinating representation of the power of positive intention transmitted through language. As human beings are composed of more than seventy percent water it isn’t a stretch to see how we are affected in similar ways.
Challenging situations are best handled with positive language as well. Missed performance gates, underachievement, and passive aggressive behavior could be communicating issues that may be readily addressed through honest discourse and encouraging support. Even if an associate is unhappy in their current situation, a positive approach that places their interests at the forefront may lead to resolution for all involved. By approaching the most difficult situations with positive intention, leadership can reinforce the creative culture of an organization.
Organizations transitioning from a traditional culture towards an enlightened culture will inevitably incur situations for friction to emerge, especially with associates uncomfortable with the evolving environment. This is quite natural, and should be embraced as a positive sign of the enterprise moving forward. As the transition takes hold certain behaviors will indicate discomfort with the change from certain associates. By addressing these issues in a timely and positive manner, pathways to resolution will quickly emerge. If an organization can afford a short period of transition and an unhappy associate has not acted in an unethical manner, providing an exit strategy for the associate to move on will greatly benefit the enterprise and enhance the culture.
(28) “The Miracle of Water”, Masaru Emoto, Atria Books, New York, NY, 2007.