As children many of us were taught to use the words “please” and “thank you” as a standard course of communicating with people. Please was the “magic” word when we needed or wanted something. And “thank you” was our way of showing appreciation to someone else for providing us with something. While this was most certainly an important lesson and a habit to which many of us have become accustomed, when was the last time you really took the time to stop and think about the purpose and value behind gratitude?

We often associate gratitude as an external interaction given or received between two or more people as a form of positive acknowledgement. But what if I told you that the fundamental purpose and value of gratitude has nothing to do with how you engage with others? What if I told you that the core principles of gratitude begin with how you choose to position yourself for personal and professional success?

Let’s start with where we ultimately want to be. As the creator of the The BUILD Framework®, I encourage people to focus on five core areas for maximizing personal and professional success: Build Relationships, Understand the Business, Implement Strategies, Lead and Inspire, and Deliver Excellence. By addressing and improving your approach in each of these areas, there is no doubt that you will see significant improvement in your personal and professional life. And the four key principles of gratitude play a huge part in this.

Principle #1: Gratitude begins with choosing a grateful mindset. Simply put, this means training ourselves to focus on opportunity and abundance rather than negativity and limitations. For many of us, we begin our day by waking up to an alarm. And our response to that sound is often annoyance or frustration. How many of us take a moment when the alarm goes off to be consciously grateful for the opportunity to start a new day? Traffic during our commute may delay one part of our day, but it is also an opportunity to call an old friend, listen to a podcast, enjoy some quiet reflection, or converse with others in the car. You get the idea. A grateful mindset is simply a matter of consciously choosing to control YOUR emotional narrative.

Principle #2: Know why you are grateful. I am excited to start a new day because ___________. I am thankful for this challenge because ___________. I enjoyed our conversation because ___________. Choosing a grateful attitude is step one, but acknowledging why you are grateful is key to developing a habit of gratitude. Think about it this way, if you know why certain opportunities, people, or actions engender gratitude in you, you are more likely to naturally gravitate towards those things in.

Principle #3: Express your gratitude. Sharing your gratitude with others is a critical element in creating a habit of gratitude. Verbalizing your gratitude holds you accountable for your positivity. It also sends a message to those around you that you are choosing to operate from a place of optimism. Ultimately, it helps encourage the same behavior in others and helps you surround yourself with like-minded people.

Principle #4: Encourage gratitude in others. Only after you have begun to regularly implement the first three principles should you begin to embolden others to do the same. Remember, this is not about directing or criticizing, but leading and inspiring. The best way to do this is to let others come to their own conclusions. If someone complains about having to get up early, ask them if they think it’s awesome to have a full day to get things done. A horrible boss, won’t it be great to knock their socks off. Not everyone will buy in. But that’s not the point. By encouraging others, you are reinforcing your own grateful mindset and you are setting the tone for others around you.

So, how does this translate to personal and professional success? Let’s apply gratitude to the The BUILD Framework®. Gratitude is necessary in creating healthy and productive relationships. When you demonstrate a grateful mindset, it attracts people who value that quality. It sets the tone for what people can expect from you. When you express gratitude, people feel validated and appreciated, then tend to work harder, show pride in their work, and are more loyal.

Gratitude certainly helps you understand others and your business more. When we start asking why, we learn what motivates people, employees and customers and what doesn’t. We learn what changes can be made to make things better, what engenders joy and loyalty in those around us. Going deeper into the why of your business through gratitude will help you focus your efforts on what works.

Being able to narrow your focus on what works, rather than what isn’t working, will allow you to implement strategies for a healthier and more productive work environment. This same concept can be applied to your personal life. When you understand the why and can tap into what engenders gratitude, you can focus on the things that create a positive and healthy interaction. The only way to effectively implement strategies is to know where to focus your efforts. Gratitude provides you with the tools to accomplish this.

With little exception, most people are far more receptive to being led and inspired by grateful people than by curmudgeons. Embracing a grateful mindset not only allows you to lead and inspire from a place of focused positivity, but it places an expectation on those around you to do the same and rewards them for their efforts. A leader sets the tone. And no better tone can be set that gratitude.

Gratitude plays an important role in delivering excellence. Whether you are delivering excellence to a partner or friend, employees, or customers, it comes down to knowing what they need and want, and how best to satisfy that need or want. Delivering excellence begins with delivering the best version of yourself. If you have a grateful mindset, and ask yourself why, you will easily be able to express that appreciation to others. A partner or friend will be engaging the best version of you. Your employees or customers will be receiving your gratitude for their role in your business. Ultimately, when you are able to focus on and express appreciation, you are able to deliver the best version of yourself, inspire the best service from your employees, and engage with your customers and clients with authenticity and purpose.

Perhaps the greatest thing about gratitude is that it is free, entirely within your control, and something anyone can do anywhere, anytime.

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