The Case For Gratitude

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Communication, Happiness, Kelly

~ by Kelly Bush ~

Please, sir, I want some more… some more please and thank you, that is.

If there is a buzzword as we transition from 2016 into 2017, I think the case can be made that it is gratitude. For the past few years, discussions about gratitude have infiltrated popular culture. Even the packaging on products such as tea and chocolates exhort us to take a moment and focus on gratitude. Articles proclaim the health benefits of expressing and feeling gratitude, and in recent yoga classes I find my teachers are referencing its role in our well-being more and more.

So if gratitude has become ubiquitous, why then does it seem to remain somewhat elusive in the work environment?

If gratitude helps us thrive in all aspects of our lives – and is even good for our health – then why isn’t it on the rise at work? After all, saying please and thank you to our colleagues costs nothing but a bit of thought and a moment of time. It is essentially free and yet possesses such great value. So why isn’t it being distributed more generously? And what can we do about this?

First, you have to look for it.

Stressed business woman
When I decided a few years ago to change careers, one of the many things that influenced that decision was my frustration with what felt like an almost complete lack of gratitude in my then-profession. There was a pervasive culture of over-work, one-upmanship and unreasonable expectations combined with inadequate reward/recognition that was incongruous with my values and happiness. It left me feeling trod upon and resentful and that is NOT how I thrive.

When employers fail to recognize the value of their employees appreciably – whether in words, with compensation or by giving growth opportunities – they lose talent. Losing talent means losing the resources invested in developing that talent and even if nothing else here resonates, in simple terms it means a hit to the bottom line. If that doesn’t wake people up … well …

While not every role or organization I now pursue will necessarily be a hive of graciousness, I have found that because I now prioritize gratitude, I am better able to find it. For more than a year I recently had the privilege of working for someone who said please and thank you for nearly everything. I knew that when I went the extra mile to achieve a result that my manager saw my efforts and appreciated them because he always said thank you.

When leadership acknowledges your contribution to the organization, it is an incredible motivator to continue to perform at a higher level. It cost him nothing to let me know my work was appreciated, but that had great value to me. (Thank you, Richard.)

So what do I do when gratitude isn’t forthcoming?

A common piece of career advice is to model your hours/style/attire/practices on those of your supervising managers and to look to them as exemplars. If gratitude isn’t a noticeable part of their professional arsenal, and leadership hasn’t incorporated gratitude into their professional practices, then what? I don’t advocate jumping ship straightaway – because gratitude goes both ways – and walking away without a plan isn’t usually commendable. (There can be exceptions.)

Wedding favors
What helps me thrive in these situations is to take back my agency. Because regardless of a manager’s choices, I am free to be gracious and grateful at work. Whether or not other people engage with gratitude, I am always free to do so. That means say please. Say thank you. Say these things when a colleague does something you appreciate or need. Thank your supervisors when they spend an extra minute teaching you something, or give you an opportunity or help expand your skill set.

Literally be the change you wish to see. It may not change how leadership operates, but my experience has been that I feel more satisfaction at work and thrive more professionally when I know I have expressed gratitude to my colleagues. Upholding my own personal code of conduct has little to do with the choices made by others.

Gratitude for the imperfect.

Sometimes it becomes clear that even after bringing your own gratitude to the table and having served it generously, there just isn’t enough to go around. And that may mean that after thoughtful consideration, it is time to look for a new opportunity or to simply leave.

In my experience, this has been a difficult decision and usually involves disappointment, frustration and sometimes, anger. It is at this point that gratitude becomes absolutely necessary. Because whatever the reason for which I chose to part company with an organization, there are things for which I am grateful – and must express gratitude – in order to thrive in my next role.

There are things I learned. There are things I learned to avoid. There are skills I honed and experience on which I expanded. Sometimes learning that something is not right for me is the lesson I take away from something. And while it may not have been pleasant to learn, I find I am grateful for the knowledge afterward.

Happy woman meditating in a beautiful setting.
In finding gratitude for what an experience taught me – however imperfectly – I am able to recognize its value and role in my career. I am better able to see what was positive and when moving forward, to see its merit and integrate it into my own professional arsenal. Because as the many articles, advisors, teachers and gurus have been proclaiming, gratitude is good for us. It has become essential for me to thrive at work (and life).

by Kelly Bush | LinkedIn

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Embracing My Ruby Slipper Syndrome

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Happiness, Olivia, Public Relations

When I was in second grade I made my acting debut as a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz. I used to watch the movie all of the time when I younger. I especially loved the end when Judy Garland’s Dorothy finally made it home and realized she had been having lucid dreams.

 I’m in the bottom right with the other Lullaby League girls. I distinctly remember singing Happy Birthday for my audition piece.
I’m in the bottom right with the other Lullaby League girls. I distinctly remember singing Happy Birthday for my audition piece.

As the years went by and my focus shifted away from musical theater and onto school, the Wizard of Oz drifted from my radar.

That is, until the other day, when I learned about the Ruby Slipper Syndrome in Kivi Leroux Miller’s Nonprofit Marketing Guide email newsletter.

You can’t see it, but we sprayed an unbelievable amount of glitter on our hair and bodies. I’m pretty sure I sparkled in the sun for three years after the final curtain call.
You can’t see it, but we sprayed an unbelievable amount of glitter on our hair and bodies. I’m pretty sure I sparkled in the sun for three years after the final curtain call.

The premise is that you seek out what you think you want in life, only to realize you actually want what you’ve had all along. So basically, you’re Dorothy trying to get away from your family and the evil woman who wants to take your dog, only to realize “there’s no place like home.”

Ruby Slipper Syndrome is not to be confused with fearing change. I full heartedly embrace change and strongly encourage you to as well. It will make your life substantially easier, I promise.

Ruby Slipper Syndrome focuses more on realizing you already have what you need in life to be happy. Not that you’re pursuing something because it’s easier and less scary.

To some degree, this is my life in a nutshell. Minus the wicked woman, a dog that bites and all of the lucid dreams.

I started college dead set on being a sports broadcaster. I was going to be the next Erin Andrews or Sage Steele. I had everything going for me and no reason not to follow through.

Me at the 2012 Super Bowl Media Day interviewing Giants punter, Steve Weatherford, who happens to be one of my best friend’s cousins.
Me at the 2012 Super Bowl Media Day interviewing Giants punter, Steve Weatherford, who happens to be one of my best friend’s cousins.

Until I started learning more about the career. I was told by countless professional women in the field I would have to give up my job, my family, my friends, holidays, weekends, and basically everything I’ve ever cared about.

As I became more immersed, I realized they were right. It forced to step back during my sophomore year of college and think about what I valued most.

I grew up in a close-knit family. My entire immediate family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – live within 30 minutes of my childhood home. My parents worked from 8-5 on the weekdays and half day on Saturday so I always knew I would see them on the weekends. Fishing trips with dad, shopping with mom, watching musicals with my grandparents, and volunteering with my aunt filled my childhood days.

How could I not have had a phenomenal childhood? I had a Barbie comforter for Pete’s sake!
How could I not have had a phenomenal childhood? I had a Barbie comforter for Pete’s sake!

And I loved every minute of it. I’m extremely grateful I had all of those opportunities, because I know most people don’t.

For four years I dreamed of being a sports broadcaster and was so close to actually doing it. I loved sports, writing and acting. It was the perfect combination of all three. But what good would that be if I didn’t have friends or family to come home to every night and share in my success?

In the months leading up to my junior year, I decided to make a career change. I switched to public relations. I knew the lifestyle would be more conducive to my building the life I actually wanted for my future children, which closely mirrors my own childhood.

Now I have an 8-5 job, the weekends off, plenty of friends, a beautiful cat and dog, a fantastic boyfriend and a great relationship with my family, who is only an hour away.

So am I victim of Ruby Slipper Syndrome? Yes, but I’m okay with that because I’m doing what I want to in life.

And doing what you want and surrounding yourself with caring people who love you is how you will thrive in your career, relationships and life.

by Olivia Humphreys | email | LinkedIn | Twitter

Olivia

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