There are many lists you can find online that will list the “top 10 essentials to leadership” and so on and so forth. Voices way more talented and recognized than mine can tell you what tools you need to be a better leader, husband, employee, follower of Jesus, and the list could go on. When I think of leadership I will Google or look just for fun at what people are saying are the “next big things” or the “non-negotiables” in leadership development. There’s a vast array of incredible lists with things we all need to learn and grow in!
BUT, there’s one thing that’s missing from many of them. It was missing from my own leadership toolbox until recently. Since working on this leadership essential, not only has my leadership increased but my quality of life as well. It was pointed out by more than one author I like to read. Now it’s at the very top of my own list of essentials. But at first I didn’t buy into it because it’s not something you are really taught in regards to leadership. We are taught to visualize, strategize, and more. When you take the time to work on this essential tool, you will find growth you never knew could be accomplished. It’s something that’s missing in many of us that we need to get back.
The missing link = GRATITUDE
What if, at the top of you leadership arsenal, you made gratitude the priority? What if you began each day looking at the things you are most grateful for? What kind of tone would that set for your day? If you’re like me, you are tempted to begin each day with going immediately to your “task” list and seeing what needs done and then tackling it with full force. What’s missing is taking a step back and leading from a sense of gratitude for where you are. No matter where your leadership resides, you can (and must) be thankful first. Thankfulness allows us to lead from a sense of wholeness.
I would look at where I was in my organization and crave getting to the next level. I would always search for “what’s next.” As soon as I began being thankful and even listing in my journal the things I was grateful for (BEFORE anything else) my attitude and my “why” changed. I’m still working on this balance in my life but I can tell you first hand that when I begin each day with a sense of gratitude, it changes things. Every. Single. Time. And for the better.
While it’s a good practice to always be thinking ahead it can also have a nasty side effect = comparison… If we don’t begin with gratitude, something ugly arises out of all our vision casting and strategizing. It’s called “comparison” and it’s a thief.
The killer of Gratitude = Comparison
I used to teach students all the time by saying, “When you compare, you lose.” That’s true in leadership, relationships, career, and more. When you compare where you are against where somebody else is, you lose. Every time! You can’t be grateful when you are staring at where you want to be while neglecting your current stage of life. Comparison happens very subtly too that often it’s hard to see it. You may build a house and get so excited… But then what happens? You start to see other houses go up in your addition that are bigger… Oh and they could add that nice upgrade that if you added it you couldn’t have afforded running water.
You see what happens? All of a sudden you completely lose your contentment and your gratefulness all because you were comparing. If we want to increase our gratefulness and lead from a sense of wholeness, we must put comparison to death. Wanting to get to the next “level” is a good thing until you introduce comparison and your motives change. Keep checking your heart and remember your “why.” I know for me, I don’t want to lead from a sense of always comparing myself to others. I want to lead from a sense of making a difference in the world in the only way I can, not how I “wish” I could. Or even how somebody else that I admire is making a difference. I need to focus on the unique way I can make a difference.