What does your “gratitude list” look like?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, and I know I’m looking forward to a wonderful day of food and family. I hope your plans for the holiday will be meaningful and fun.

I don’t know about you, but the Thanksgiving holiday always gets me thinking about gratitude. Here is something I wrote in my newest book, Intentional Living, about creating a “gratitude list.” Read on to discover what that can look like, and how it can benefit you and the people you care about:

Recently I spoke at a conference for ATB Financial in Edmonton, Canada. Their top three hundred leaders had gathered for a day of leadership training, and I was their keynote speaker. They had a banner draped across the stage that read, “Why We Lead—To Bring Out the Very Best in Others for Outstanding Results!” I loved that.

During the conference, Lorne Rubis, the organization’s chief people officer, instructed the attendees to ask themselves this question: “Who brings out the best of me?” Right alongside the others, I took his advice. For the next thirty minutes I reflected and I wrote down the names of people who have continually added value to my life. Each time I added another name to this gratitude list, I would smile and remember something each person had said or done for me that added value to my life. Here’s the list I made:

  • Dad showed me how to live and lead.
  • Mom made me feel loved every day of my life.
  • Margaret is my best friend who gives me great joy.
  • Elmer Towns sparked my dream to build a great church.
  • John Wooden encouraged me to make every day my masterpiece.
  • Andy Stanley taught me to do for one what I wish I could do for others.
  • Mark Cole serves me every day with a bright mind and a willing heart.
  • Les Parrott encouraged me to write books to extend my influence.
  • Coach Neff helped me to play in my sweet spot.
  • Paul Martinelli and Scott Fay gave me the opportunity to birth the John Maxwell Team.
  • Larry Maxwell helped me get started in business.
  • Tom Phillippe has been a trustworthy friend for over forty years.
  • David Hoyt took my speaking career to a higher level.
  • Gerald Brooks gave me the first donation to EQUIP.
  • Zig Ziglar encouraged me to put other people first.
  • Chris Hodges consistently and continually adds value to EQUIP and me.
  • Charlie Wetzel has been with me for twenty years helping me write books.
  • Robert Morris models a generous lifestyle for me.
  • Tom Mullins gave me the leadership lift I needed for EQUIP.
  • Kevin Myers developed the John Maxwell Leadership Center.

These are just a few of the people I am grateful for. My list could be endless. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t take action on something related to what was given to me by one of these people. One of my greatest motivations to add value to others is to do for others what so many have done for me.

Making such a list reminds me that I am not a self-made man. None of us can really claim to have done anything alone, can we? We need others. And we should value them.

Who brings out the best in you? Who are you grateful for? Have you made a list of the people you appreciate? If not, now is the perfect time of year to create your own list. Take time to do so this week. Once you have, it will be difficult for you to forget all of the people who have helped you get to where you are today, because it lives with you and within you. It lives with you because of the things people have done with you. It lives within you because of the way it sustains you. And it can inspire you to get outside of yourself and put others first, just as others have often put you first.

Adapted from Intentional Living (October 2015)

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