Day 10: The Practice of Gratitude
Earlier this week I spoke to a women's networking group, here in Atlanta, about how women succeed in male-dominated industries, using my experience as an entrepreneur in both wine and technology as the basis for the conversation.
(Best part: We poured wine! We used five examples of women-led wines to illustrate the theme even further. The wines came from Nathalie Gruet in New Mexico, Barbara Banke, Cynthia Lohr, Marilisa Allegrini and Sarah Cabot in Oregon.)
I focused on four takeaways during my talk that, in my experience, help me to succeed: credibility, publicly boosting colleagues, leveraging our networks, and gratitude. Today I'd like to linger a bit longer on the practice of gratitude.
A few years ago I committed to taking time, once a day, to list the things I was grateful for. It changed from day to day. One day the best I could do was to be grateful for the yellow flowers on the side of the road. Another day I was grateful for a new assignment, or a new client. Other days I was grateful for food on the table and healthy children who ate it.
I did this for a year, and I kept a blog about it so I could page back through. A few months in, I started to notice some things shifting, as I got into the practice of saying "I am grateful for..."
I noticed that there is always something to be grateful for. I could always find something, which led to something else, which led to something else. The snowball effect of that has lifted me out of sour moods, and it has prevented me from dipping into those sour moods in the first place.
Gratitude has become, then, an important tool in my professional life. I reach for it on the days when it's a challenge to start, when inspiration for a writing project is elusive, and when I'm just not sure I could make one more presentation. I reach for the tool of gratitude, and it inevitably pushes me over the hump.
Here's how it looks in each of those situations:
- When it's a challenge to start: I am grateful for this work in wine. I am grateful that every day I get to do something different and challenging. I am grateful that my work involves the pleasure of drinking wine, which makes me happy.
- When inspiration for a writing project is elusive: I am grateful to be a writer. I am grateful that words are my means of expression. I am grateful that I can start this project humbly, and trust the process to take it where it needs to go. I am grateful for the writing prompt of, What does this article want to BE?
- When I'm not sure I could make one more presentation: I am grateful for the people who want to hear this presentation. I am grateful for their time, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share our work with them. I am grateful for my team, and for the desire to showcase their skills.
That's how practicing gratitude impacts my professional life. I'd love to hear your versions and twists on this! How do you put gratitude to work for you?
PS The blog of this series is up over on Beck's website, for your convenience and to revisit at your own pace. Enjoy!