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5 Reasons Why You Should Be Grateful

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Grateful

Be Grateful.

“The root of joy is gratefulness” – David Steindl-Rast

Gratitude is a seed that multiplies once planted. It grows and leads to transformation. I am amazed by the power of gratitude not only within the soul but beyond as well. In my coaching practice, I preach and encourage my clients to imbibe the art of gratitude on a consistent basis.

Personally, every month, I practice the art of gratitude by placing phone calls, or sending email, text or voice messages to mentors, coaches, and key members of my network to acknowledge, appreciate, and honor them.

This conscious effort acknowledges the past, without compromising the present. This small act influences the future by keeping the lines of communication open for future possibilities and opportunities.

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Here are 5 reasons why you should be grateful:

  1. Gratitude softens hearts
  2. Gratitude uplifts the soul and spirit
  3. Gratitude transforms the giver and receiver
  4. Gratitude is free
  5. Gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving (it literally takes on a life of its own)

To amplify the importance of gratitude, I will share a personal story of my 1st annual performance review. This performance review after so many years remains indelible on my mind for a few reasons but most especially for the lesson of gratitude.

Annual Review

When I started out in my career, like many, I was a ‘raw’, hard working, and driven individual. I was of the opinion that the mantra of “working hard” and letting the rest fall into place was sufficient.

So I just worked hard.
Whatever I was asked to do, I did.

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When the annual performance review rolled around, I was confident that I had done what was sufficient for a promotion. I submitted my review and anticipated the best news possible. So, imagine my utmost shock when I was informed I didn’t deserve a promotion and had to settle for a meager 3% merit increase.

Is this a joke, I wondered, a 3% increase? It’s been a while and can’t recall to whom I directed the bulk of anger but I was livid. Upset enough that my lips trembled and I had to fight the natural impulse to make a scene. However, I wanted to leave the room without acknowledging the feedback or saying thank you. But, I knew better and mumbled a half-hearted “Thank You” and left.

The day after…

Overnight, I gained some perspective and reminded myself of life’s gifts including my good fortune of a promising job in a great organization. I dragged myself back into my manager’s office and I reiterated what I thought I heard about my career, acknowledged my manager’s feedback and uttered a more thoughtful thank you. I think I said something along these lines “…thank you for your feedback and the bonus you administered on behalf of the company yesterday.

I didn’t stop there…

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I went to my manager’s boss and said, something similar and along the same lines. I think I said, “Thank you for the feedback and the bonus that was administered (assigned, would probably be more accurate) yesterday.

A Life of Its Own

So, back to the story, it was the shell-shocked look on their faces that gave it away. I knew I had just performed an act that is extremely rare. That was my first lesson on Brand Differentiation. Remember that:

“If you do something different, you will get noticed.”

By stepping out and acting different, I separated myself from others and my actions took on a life of their own. My action opened doors and gave me unlimited access to my manager’s boss which eventually transitioned into a monthly mentoring lunch and much more. A habit I have maintained till date on my journey. Within that new year, I gained new allies, sponsors, and mentors that led to open doors and more opportunities in the office.

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I want to encourage you to develop a “Gratitude Strategy” as well.

  • Develop an attitude of gratitude
  • Say “Thank You” often
  • Take the time to craft a simple note to those who have helped you at work, school, business, and life

These are little things, but experts agree that in life and relationships, the little things matter. I want to challenge you to try gratitude. It might feel odd at first but give it a try. Trust me, the effect and results are out of this world.

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Dr. Flo

Executive Director, Hybrid Leadership Institute

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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