How many of us in business find that we're stressed for much of the time, have little time for ourselves or on those rare breaks feel guilty or worried that we're not out there earning money?
We may love what we do, enjoy working all hours but are aware of the unremitting pressure to make contacts, be high-profile, generate new business. Gratitude rarely features in our minds unless it's to thank someone for a valuable lead or great new order.
It can be important though to stop occasionally and ask if gratitude has a role in modern business.
Many of us in business work so hard that when we do win an order or resolve a problem feel that we've earned our good result, why should we be grateful for it! We deserve to reward ourselves. Also, it's important not to underestimate the value of letting clients and customers see trophies and evidence of our success. The nice cars and comfortable premises can provide confidence and reassurance in their decision to use our company.
Equally, those of us running small businesses, perhaps from our homes, with minimal overheads can gain much satisfaction from the choices and freedom of being our own bosses. There's a role for gratitude in each size of business.
Gratitude is important as it grounds us, allows us to appreciate what we have and remind ourselves that many people also work long hours, sometimes in desperate circumstances, with little or hardly any reward. We may have sweat blood for that lucky break, may have made many sacrifices, but it's important to be thankful too.
Instead of constantly working, moving from one task to the next, let's explore ways to manage stress and burnout, be more appreciative of our lives, value our opportunities and challenges, whilst enjoying a positive perspective on life.
Let's look at ways that gratitude can have a role in business:
- People running their own businesses frequently experience setbacks and challenges, but even in those dire times stop and ask yourself would you have it any other way? How many of us could entertain going back to work for someone else, being told what to do, where to go on a daily basis?
Yes, a regular salary and associated benefits might be a relief, especially on a stressful day, but the reality is that very few business people could return to a 'proper job'. Be thankful for the independence and relative freedom, even if there's tension and stress at times.
- Setbacks and difficult clients/customers are often the ones we learn most from. They help us become clearer about our business model, the jobs we accept, who we want to work for, what is financially viable. They bring valuable lessons, ones to be appreciated.
Challenging times teach us about our strength of character, help us improve our skills, stretch ourselves and, even if we can't charge for the time we've spent completing a difficult job, we can still feel satisfaction afterwards.
- Be thankful for the successes. Rather than immediately moving on to the next task or opportunity take time to appreciate each good result. Give yourself credit for how far you've come, what you've achieved. Share some of your good fortune and give back to your community; perhaps offer a mentoring programme or sponsor a charity event. This could be a win/win situation where you demonstrate appreciation of the support you've received whilst becoming an active part of your community.
- Networking can bring people into our lives for whom we're grateful. Some contacts may deliver business, provide us with recommendations. But networking also provides friendships, brings opportunities to share advice, exchange support.
Alliances may be made which result in a more comprehensive menu being offered to potential customers. Networking introduces us to people we may never have met otherwise and provides opportunities to discuss business issues and concerns informally, be introduced to new ideas and meet people with whom we may work.
- Staff can be a major issue for many people in business; supporting a large overhead, being responsible for motivating and developing them, ensuring there's enough work to justify their salaries, helping them through personal 'stuff'. A good boss is interested in his/her staff, offers training, is generous with thanks and appreciation, trusts them and delegates well.
But a good member of staff can reward your faith by freeing up time for you to develop the business, they may discover new and better ways of doing things, give you a break. Being successful enough to employ staff can be a headache, but it's also something to be thankful for.
- Family and friends are important when you're in business. They may be an annoying distraction at times, having to consider them and their needs. But being made to stop work because you've 'agreed' to attend a football match, parents' evening or dinner date is a good way to be reminded of other important things in life, that possibly motivated you to start your business and continue working as hard.
Also, It's useful to receive a different perspective on your business, a caring person who has your interests at heart but perhaps sees things in another way.