Thoughts on Leadership: Giving Thanks

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting off Monday with the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had succession calls and today, I’m reviewing slide decks and material for upcoming presentations and meetings. Of course, tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.

As we approach Thanksgiving, this week is all about gratitude, though as leaders, gratitude is the foundational element to a positive mindset, so gratitude is always an ongoing aspect of our work and lives. But this week especially, gratitude takes center stage.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

There are no downsides to bringing more gratitude into your daily routine. Oprah Winfrey has said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Now that we’re in a collectively grateful mood, let’s talk about Thanksgiving, which happens to be one of my favorite holidays. It’s non-denominational, we all celebrate and at the holiday’s core is a hearty sense of gratitude that gives us an extra jolt of thankfulness just as we enter the last month of the year. Thanksgiving is also a time to come together with family and friends, eat delicious food and simply celebrate the bountiful goodness of our lives. Plus, we have three NFL football games; there’s a morning game, an afternoon game, and an evening game. (Hahaha, you know I’d throw sports into this post somehow.)

Anyway, do you know how the Thanksgiving holiday began? Thanksgiving gets its origins from a leader named Sarah Josepha Hale, who was also a writer and poet. (She wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”)

During the mid-1800s, Thanksgiving wasn’t the holiday it is today. Different states celebrated at different times of the year; there wasn’t one national day for giving thanks across the entire country. Hale wanted Thanksgiving to become a national holiday, a single day when everyone around the nation could focus on what they’re grateful for, and in 1846, she began to write. She wrote to governors. She wrote to leading politicians. She wrote to five U.S. Presidents.

Her commitment to this Wildly Important Goal eventually proved fruitful and on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving.”

So, what’s the message? Thanksgiving is about gratitude, but it’s also about the importance of gratitude, and how we should do whatever we can to not only add more gratitude to our lives but also to the lives of others. When everyone feels grateful for what they have, the world is a better, happier, more positive place – and that’s something we should all be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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