The Power of Gratitude

The late Bob Briner, author of Roaring Lambs, taught me the most important words you can say are thank you. I knew from years of reading the Bible and associating with thankful people that giving thanks was important, but Bob, a successful businessman, emphasized gratitude in the workplace. As a result, I’ve made it my practice to say thanks as often as I can, to as many as I can, and for whatever reason I can.

Saying thank you is so powerful that only the naive and ignorant would fail to employ it. Here are two reasons why:

First, everyone needs to feel appreciated. When you tell someone you are grateful for what they have done, it lifts them up, it makes them feel good. It inspires them to excel since they know they’ll not go unnoticed.

Second, gratitude is powerful because it produces something good in you. When you give thanks it changes your outlook on life.   Your perspective becomes more positive; you realize there is so much to be thankful for.  You feel better about yourself.

When to give thanks? Always—and for everything. Most will say thank you when something good is done for them; gratitude is easy when things go well. However, one of the best ways to deal with tough situations is to be thankful! It may or may not change the circumstances, but it will change how you face them.  The best path out of trouble is thanksgiving.

As a business owner, I hate complaints, but have learned to appreciate them. Truth is, a dissatisfied customer could not say anything to you, but go tell others how bad your company is. Instead, they are calling to tell you they're unhappy. This is great news, as a complaint can go from something negative to a chance to improve—hopefully saving a customer too!

Two examples of gratitude come to mind.

Jim and Phyllis Russell were expecting a child, but not the child they got. On delivery day the baby born to them had down-syndrome. During dinner with Jim, he recalled the occasion of their daughter Amy's birth. He remembered the biblical admonition, “In everything give thanks”; so Jim and his wife thanked God for the precious gift they had just received. Jim is gone now, and the child a mature adult—known all over the world as the “Amy” in the Russell’s private charity, The Amy Foundation.

The second example is simple but impacted me greatly. My wife and I were dining at the Amway Grand in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Each time the waitress served us and I thanked her, she replied, "My pleasure." You could tell she meant it and not only enjoyed waiting on us, but was grateful for the opportunity.

There is so much to be had by taking the time to say thanks. What would the workplace be like if we took the time to express some gratitude?