An immigrant shopkeeper’s son came to see him one day. Observing the disorganization of his father’s shop, the son complained, “Dad, I don’t understand how you run this store. You keep your accounts payable in a cigar box. Your accounts receivable are on a spindle. All your cash is in the register. You never know what your profits are.”
“Son, let me tell you something,” answered his dad. “When I arrived in this land all I owned was the pants I was wearing. Now your sister is an art teacher. Your brother is a doctor. You are a CPA. Your mother and I own a house and a car and this little store. Add that all up and subtract the pants and there is your profit.”
Very few people fully fathom how far they have come in life, or are able to see the bountiful blessings right in front of them. Instead, people typically concentrate on life’s blemishes to the exclusion of its blessings. They focus on what they don’t have instead of being grateful for what they’ve been given. They worry about the road ahead instead of being thankful for the joys the journey of life has already brought them.
Our personal growth is tied to our professions of gratitude. Why? Because what we appreciate, appreciates. When we express thanks to others for their support, they’re more likely to assist us in the future. People enjoy working with those who acknowledge their contribution and affirm their value. As you heap gratitude upon people, they’re motivated to help you even more. As Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura write, “Resources are drawn to where they are valued most. The world responds to gratitude by making more of everything we appreciate available to us.”
Conversely, what we underappreciate atrophies. People are repelled from relationships where their effort goes unnoticed or routinely gets overlooked. No one wants to work where they feel invisible or ignored.
Gratitude is the antidote to three deadly diseases that imperil a leader’s influence: pride, isolation, and selfishness. When we overstate our own importance, viewing our own hard work and wisdom as the sole source of our success, we devalue the support others have given us. On account of our arrogance, our relationships weaken, and we grow distant from others. On the other hand, when we thank people proactively, we’re reminded of our dependence on them and inspired to serve their needs instead of just expecting them to meet ours.
As Henry Ward Beecher said, “a proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets what he deserves.” Conversely, a humble man is continually in awe that he gets to partake of the beauty of life and glad that he gets to share it with the ones he loves.
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What steps can you take to avoid being blind to the benefits and blessings around you?