Thursday, October 29, 2009

Leadership and a Thankful Attitude

A young friend of mine recently shared with me his perspective on thankfulness. This young man is Mexican and he lives in a small community in the Northern Baja. His life is quite different from the typical North American young adult - and by typical North American young adult I am thinking of individuals who enjoyed fairly stable childhoods, attended school and have opportunity to attend post secondary, live within their known family unit, and can hold reasonable expectations that they will find a job and enjoy most of what North American life has to offer. In Mexico life is not so certain. There is wide disparity between those with wealth and those who are poor, jobs are far and few between, and access to post secondary is very limited for poorer families. Of the Mexican families that I know, the whole family makes sacrifices so that one child can attend secondary and post secondary education. So what does a young Mexican man have to be thankful for? At the end of each day he is thankful for his friends and that the most basic of his needs were met - he has a place to sleep and someone in his circle of friends has ensured that he had a meal to enjoy - and he is truly thankful. On a really good day someone may have had some work for him to do.

As he shared his sense of thankfulness with me I started to reflect on my own sense of thankfulness and how that is expressed in my leadership. As I lead do I feel a sense of entitlement, a taking for granted that the agenda I set will get done. Do I take the time to be thankful for each individuals that I get to work with, and for the meaningful work I get to be a part of. How would being thankful change how I lead? Beyond saying thanks when work gets down, do I convey to those around me an appreciation of how we are working together, of the quality of our relationships, of their importance to me, to the team and to the organization. How would your leadership change if everything you did was through and attitude of thanks?

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