How Gratitude Can Shape Your Business
About two years ago I was invited to join a group of entrepreneurs for a “Gratitude Challenge” on Facebook. We would each post five things we were grateful for each day for 90-days. We were also encouraged not to repeat gratitudes. The idea is that there are always so many things to be grateful for that we shouldn’t need to repeat any of them.
Right away I was excited about this opportunity. Not that I didn’t have the ability to create my own gratitude practice but this afforded me the opportunity for a little extra accountability and to be inspired by the things others were sharing.
I hit the 90-day mark and took an opportunity to reflect on the experience. Here is what I learned.
How Gratitude Can Shape Your Business
Gratitude is Grounding
As I got ready for bed each night and began to list out my gratitudes, I found that I was able to reframe my day. Some days were easier than others! There were days where I signed new clients, booked speaking gigs, or was a guest on a podcast. Those days the gratitude came flooding out. But at other times, like nights where my kids were having a hard time sleeping or I wasn’t sure when the next client was going to book (ahem, how the bills going to get paid), I was essentially forced to find the good things deep within the not so good things.
I began to be very grateful for the forced reframe. Laying in bed between my 4-year-old and my 8-year-old (if you have kids you know this is the single most uncomfortable way to sleep, ever). Rather than wallowing in the misery and physical discomfort, I would look at their sleeping, peaceful, faces and remind myself that they won’t be little for long. They won’t need me to comfort them at night for very many years. This growing pains we experience with young children (as with young businesses) are all short lived. In that moment I would be so grateful for the opportunity to give them peace and comfort. To feel their tiny, soft hands wrapped around mine. I learned to just inhale it and not wish it away.
The same could be said for business. As an entrepreneur, it is often feast or famine. If you are anything like me, the famine can play powerful tricks on your mind. “Am I good enough?” “Do people want what I have to offer?” “Is anyone out there paying attention!?” Because of my gratitude practice, I put myself in a position to look past those fears and find the successes. If I wasn’t completely booked out I had more time for writing, something I love doing and wish I had more time for. When my schedule isn’t jam-packed I can check off a few things on the “I would like to do this but never have the time” list. I learned that there is always a way to feel successful and proud of what you have accomplished, even if it is not in the manner you originally intended.
Gratitude Can Change Your Mindset
For all the reasons mentioned above, I discovered a complete shift in mindset on a regular basis. When frustrating or difficult things appeared I found myself instantly looking for the “bright side” so that I could list it in my evening gratitude post. Being grateful meant I was not allowing myself to go completely down the rabbit hole when things went south. While this was difficult at first, eventually it became second nature. That “reframe” has been an extraordinary gift.
I even find myself tapping into gratitude in situations that make me angry! When I’m driving and the traffic is super slow, or when my kids are screaming at each other, or when a client is past-due on a payment - - I have learned to stop the internal bitching and instead say something I am grateful for. In these situations, anything works. The trick is simply to stop focusing on the negative thing and start focusing on the positive one.
I also learned that some days are just so bad that my daily gratitude felt like a really big stretch. I remember one night the best I could come up with is “I am glad I woke up” and “I am glad I have working legs.” But, and this is the funny thing about gratitude, I later realized that wasn’t much of a stretch at all. I am really, really grateful to wake up each day and have working legs. There are many others who don’t have those gifts. One a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day - - the simple reminder that it is truly not that bad is such a blessing.
Gratitude Taught Me About Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It is rarely about the person we are forgiving. It gives us freedom from something that has taken up residence in our hearts and minds. It opens up space for really wonderful things to happen.
As I continued to tap deeper and deeper into my gratitude experience, I found myself far more willing to forgive others, and myself. Mostly I decided it wasn’t worth holding onto and it wasn’t worth missing out on wonderful things to hold grudges or be angry.
I also learned to forgive myself far more quickly. On days where I felt like I didn’t do enough, where I couldn’t be enough, I would use my gratitude as a way of acknowledging my humanness. I would be grateful for surviving, for giving myself grace, for chalking it up to a crappy day and starting over tomorrow.
My 90-day experiment ended a long time ago but my gratitude didn’t. Thankfully the group I joined is still strong. I am so relieved each night when I stop to list my gratitude. I am grateful for all of the gifts gratitude has given me. If you don’t have a gratitude practice start today. It will change everything, I promise!
Heather Vickery is an award-winning entrepreneur, business owner, and transformational life and business coach. But Heather isn’t just a savvy businesswoman − she’s an inspiration. The founder of Vickery and Co., Heather is a featured expert on achieving an authentic and meaningful life and designing your own roadmap for balance and success.
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