The power of gratitude
Last month’s Americas Credit Union Conference didn’t disappoint. In addition to the highly informative sessions, it served as the perfect catalyst to reconnect with our credit union friends near and far. Our Your Credit Union Partner team and the Your Marketing Company team took the opportunity to host a reception at the conclusion of the event to express our gratitude to a group of credit union friends who have supported us from the beginning.
Although there are many new friendships forming within the group, they are all old friends of ours. Friends who were the first to support our consulting work, and who have stuck with us every step of the way. Having this group together in one place and reflecting on their support and friendship was a very humbling experience that filled my heart with overwhelming gratitude.
This reflection on gratitude expanded beyond kind acts or support of others to include other experiences (some that were very painful) along the way. I’m grateful for these experiences also, as they helped to shape and prepare me for a more abundant life.
The regular expression of gratitude is key to a more abundant life.
Count your blessings
If you haven’t done so lately, I recommend you assess your life’s journey thus far, including your current situation. Take a moment to count or list all of the things for which you are truly grateful.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Has someone been an important professional role model or mentor to you? Did they challenge you and help you to grow? How?
- Have you had professional experiences that have shaped your career or life? What are they? (Don’t forget to include the painful experiences, as they are frequently our greatest teachers.) Have these experiences blessed your life in some way?
- Is there anyone special who has stood with you when no one else would? What difference did that make?
- Have you been given an opportunity that changed your path for the better? What was the opportunity and how did it affect your life’s journey?
- What are your strengths? How did you gain them? Do you get to work or live to your strengths on a regular basis?
- Do you work with people you respect and with whom you share common values? What are the values that bring you together?
- Ask yourself what your life would be like today without these people or experiences?
Increase the experience and expression of gratitude in your life
Find ways to frequently remind yourself of the many things you could (and should) be grateful for. Keep a list. Over the years, I’ve found that this is a great way to feel better and have a greater overall outlook on life (especially if I’m feeling down). Or keep a journal. I believe that people who think about, talk about, or write about their gratitude regularly are more likely to be happier and help more people.
The more we express gratitude, the less importance we place on material things. We are less likely to judge our own success in terms of our material possessions, are less envious, and are more likely to share with or serve others.
Find ways to express gratitude every day. When you think about it, every single one of us have something to be grateful for. Just the fact that you’re reading this article says a lot about the overall state of your life.
I challenge you to take some time to ponder those things you are grateful for, create a list, and step out of your comfort zone and express sincere gratitude to someone – this week. Here are a few potential opportunities to express yourself at work:
- CEOs – express gratitude to your CEO for being the glue that holds the whole thing together. Be specific.
- Management team – express sincere gratitude to your management team for those specific actions that positively impact members, improve operations, or positively impact the bottom-line. I’ve never seen a CEO do it all by themselves. Show me a successful CEO and I will show you an outstanding management team.
- Management contact staff – make sure your member-facing staff and back-office support staff understand that you recognize the good they do. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them. Never assume.
- Business development staff – take a moment to recognize the good people in operations, marketing, IT, and accounting that help you help your members. You can’t do this alone. Find something good that they do for you and recognize it.
- Community partners – community partnerships create capacity, and help us help more people. Community partnerships, whether they are in community outreach or are new-car dealers, advocate on our behalf within the community. They help us grow. Thank them and let them know they are appreciated.
- Members – Finally, make sure you take the time to express gratitude to the members you serve. Members are the reason we exist. Without them, where would we be? Do the members you serve know that you appreciate the opportunity to serve them?
How you express your gratitude is up to you. It can begin with a simple “thank you.” Try sharing a specific example of something they did for you and how it benefited you. Give them a handshake or hug (whichever is most appropriate). Consider doing something small, but thoughtful for them, such as sending a card. Make sure they know that you are there for them. Listen – nothing shows gratitude more than hearing and considering what they have to say. Compliment them on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire. Help them find resources that may help them grow, as they might have done for you. Smile and show patience. Buy them a cup of coffee (or a Diet Coke). Write a LinkedIn recommendation for them. Help lighten their workload in some way, if you are able. Respect their time. You don’t have to pry into personal business to ask them how they or their family are doing.
Why gratitude matters in the credit union space
At a minimum, we spend one-third of our lives at work. The culture in which we spend this time strongly influences our wellness and development. Life in credit union land is stressful for most of us. Many among us are experiencing personal challenges we know nothing about, and they struggle. Identifying and expressing gratitude helps both the giver and the receiver. We know this right? Each of us probably has a memory of someone expressing gratitude for something we have done, and it lifted and sustained us – even if for a short period of time. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I do know that the number of people feeling unappreciated in their everyday lives is high.
Regardless of title or position at our credit unions, each of us has the opportunity to look outside of ourselves, recognizing those people who bless our lives. I believe that people or groups who consistently and sincerely do this are happier. And in credit union land, happier people results in a better quality of work life, greater member service, and financial goal attainment.
I hope you will reflect, and reach out and thank someone!