As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.
You all know by now how much I love a good quote. And this one is from the final Thanksgiving Proclamation of President John F. Kennedy.
But what does this one mean?
This quote is about walking the walk and not just talking the talk. It’s about doing and being, or becoming, what we say we admire. If you say you are grateful for the freedom to speak what is on our minds, yet we are silent in the face of intolerance then we are not doing a very good job of showing your gratitude for that freedom. If we say that we are grateful for the ability to worship as we choose, yet never darken the door of a church, are we showing gratitude for that freedom?
Why is gratitude important?
Gratitude is the feeling we get when we are thankful for something. It usually implies that something nice has been done for us or for someone about whom we care greatly. We can express our gratitude in words, and we can express them in deeds. This quote asks us to consider that action is considered a higher or more sincere form of expression.
What is the leadership lesson here?
I am not altogether sure that there is one. But I think an attitude of gratitude is an important leadership characteristic. A leader who is grateful of his followers will gain new followers and have increased loyalty and dedication for the current ones.
Today is Thanksgiving. So I ask the question: What are you grateful for?
Grab some paper and write down a dozen (or more) organizations that you are grateful for. For each, write down a few things that you can do right now to show your gratitude, either by doing something to further promote them, or by helping others better understand what that organization is all about. Do you have other ideas about how to show your gratitude? Write those down as well.
Now look at your ideas for how to show your gratitude. Which of them jump out at you, which ones are begging you to do them? Select one for now, you can always come back and do another one later. Take a look at the idea you selected. Take a moment and do a bit of brainstorming. Come up with a couple of different ways to make your idea happen. Select the one that seems to fit best with you and your situation. What actions can you take to bring this show of gratitude to life?
Here is the bottom line for me. And it all boils down to this short phrase: Actions matter more. What action can you take to show your gratitude? What will you do to show your gratitude? Talk is cheap, right?