My client seems to have it all. He has a very successful career as an executive. He drives a fancy car. He has a lake-front cottage. He has a lovely family. Yet over the last few months he has been feeling really miserable.
When we met in December, we tried to talk about his team and his work objectives, but it was futile as he was so distracted. I dropped my pen, closed my laptop, looked him in the eyes and said, “Wow. I’ve never seen you like this before. I am worried about you. What’s going on?” I was truly concerned about his health and well-being.
He was in the state of mind that I call a “downward spiral”. When in this state of mind, we focus on everything that is going wrong. For example, we complain about our teams not being good enough, our company not supporting us, our weight gain, our exhaustion and the list goes on.
It was time to bring out one of my favorite Oprah quotes, “What you focus on expands”. In other words, if you focus on negative things you will notice more negative things. Conversely, if you focus on the positive, you’ll notice and bring more positive things into your life.
With this is mind, I gave my client only one piece of homework for the month. It wasn’t related to work or his team or his objectives. His homework was to focus on gratitude.
To be honest, I have never given this specific homework assignment before. I was curious to hear what his results would be.
We met again one month later. The results were remarkable. At this meeting he was feeling calm, centred and looked much more relaxed. He told me that his homework was amazing. He explained in detail how his life improved at work and at home. He also told me that being grateful with his team actually improved their performance!!! WOW!! How amazing is that? !
In his book Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons explores the science of gratitude. His research indicates that simply writing what you are grateful for every day can significantly increase your well-being and life satisfaction.
So, I have a homework assignment for you this month. Please focus on gratitude. It is free. It is easy to implement. It works. If you want to be a better leader, this is one foolproof strategy that is guaranteed to work!