As a business owner, thanks and giving are constants. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the opportunity to serve my clients. This gratitude is something most of my clients have echoed, too, in their own businesses. By being thankful for the opportunity to be in business, we feel gratitude for all the people supporting us: customers, team members, partners, family members, mentors, colleagues, you name it.
No wonder Thanksgiving feels natural to us.
Sure, it’s also about the food, spending time with loved ones and taking advantage of killer sales. Whatever gets you most excited about Thanksgiving, I recommend you really take the time to reflect, gather even more gratitude and then share it in a way that will be impactful—for you and your business.
Start With Reflection
What better time of year to look back on how far you’ve come? OK, yes, New Year’s Eve makes logical sense to look backwards, too. In the context of Thanksgiving, we’re simply looking at it from a different vantage point. This is your time to reflect specifically on the progress you’ve made.
Imagine you’re scaling a mountain. You hoist yourself up with your system of pulleys, the crest of another slope rolling out in front of you. It’s all you can do not to blink in the sun creeping over from the other side of the mountaintop. You still have a ways to go. You look down, and instead of feeling gratitude for how far you’ve come, you see the plummeting depths beneath you. The fear of falling forces an involuntary shudder.
This sensation will ring true for many (if not all of us, at some point). We often walk around with more fear than gratitude—we’re living the dream, working our businesses and doing what we love. Who wouldn’t be scared that it could all go away? There’s always the real possibility of “falling” from where we are now, and that possibility is frightening.
Thanksgiving can be your opportunity to look at how far you’ve come in the context of what is real: the present. Your reality here and now has you dangling from a mountain, sure, AND you’re making progress. You’re securely harnessed. You even have a crew to keep you company (and root you on) along the way.
Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to all of us all of the time, which is why reflection is important to talk about even if it does seem self-evident. In the end, thankfulness is a key to business health. It has a positive impact on your mood and outlook toward the future, and as a result, opens up possibilities that you might not see if you weren’t looking through the lens of gratitude.
If you’ve made progress in your business this year, there was probably some figurative pulley system that supported you (after all, you can’t do it all yourself). Maybe that was your team, your board of advisors, a key referral source or your business partner. Don’t let what “could” happen tomorrow take away the gratitude you have for where you are today.
Once you’ve found what you’re grateful for, next comes expressing it. If you feel a little silly about the cliché of Thanksgiving and the sudden onslaught of “thank you” cards and “I’m grateful” statements, you can pepper in your thanks throughout the month. On each occasion, make it about the moment and about the person who played a part in whatever it is you’re grateful for.
Believe me, taking one person aside to tell them “thank you” a few weeks before Thanksgiving will not only feel more genuine, but in the context of work relationships, will help build trust.
I have seen this play out in teams over and over again. In fact, recently, a client mentioned to me that she had been having performance problems with an employee, and after considering multiple options for how to address the issues, she opted for gratitude. She expressed to the employee how valuable he was, and how much his contributions to the team mattered. Immediately, she noticed an incredible change in his work, his attitude and his contribution to the team. The performance issues were completely resolved as a result of this simple and heartfelt recognition. How powerful!
I have always believed that the simplest things can ultimately mean the success of a business. The big epiphanies have their place (and we all know how celebrated they are), but the simple things made habit have a much deeper and longer-lasting cultural impact.
For instance, you probably say “thank you” to your customers on a regular basis. How often do you say it to team members? How often do you say it to a supportive partner? How about your banker, your mentors, your friends or referral sources?
You really can’t go overboard here, as long as it’s genuine. Being sincere when expressing your thanks is essential not only to you feeling great about it, but to the recipient feeling great and building that trust I mentioned before.
Don’t Hold It For Thanksgiving
After you’ve introspected, you’ve thanked people, you’re full of passion and good cheer and extra servings of gratitude…what’s next? You’re excited to get things moving next year and chase down your 2020 vision. You feel great about the people you have around you. So don’t hold it in!
Remember that gratitude need not be reserved for Thanksgiving alone. The more thanks you spread, and the more often you spread it, the better.
You’re recognizing more than someone’s effort or kindness—you’re recognizing that person. And that feels good for both parties.
As an added bonus, saying “thank you” also sets the scene for more efforts and kindness on the part of the person recognized. Showing gratitude primes people to continue contributing.
With small businesses accounting for 64% of new job growth over the last 25 years1, as business owners we have a lot to be grateful for. So pause to let it all soak in. Then share that gratitude, and don’t stop sharing! You’ll be grateful you did.