Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world. Other days, I feel like the world is on top of me. I can’t be alone in this, and this has been especially the case this year. In 2020—amid a global pandemic—with such unprecedented difficulties facing us at every turn. Yet, in the midst of it all, I have to remind myself to stay grateful.
And with Thanksgiving upon us, now seemed like the perfect time for this post, which will explore how having a spirit of gratefulness every day goes a long way in life, even in the business world. Specifically, I will discuss how gratitude is the secret ingredient that helps entrepreneurs and CEOs get through the numerous peaks and valleys they will inevitably face in their journeys toward success and beyond.
This past year, it was recorded that the United States was home to 30.7 million small businesses. That’s a whole lot of American entrepreneurs. This should not surprise us, as the United States is a nation that has done a fantastic job (thus far) in creating an atmosphere where entrepreneurs opening businesses can truly flourish. The American dream is still available, even in these challenging times. And what is the core of the American Dream? Hope … Hope in knowing that there is still an open road ahead in America to fully embrace the “pursuit of happiness” and achieve whatever goals you put your mind to.
So that leads me to ask: What does your pursuit of happiness look like, and how do you measure it? Often, I see that entrepreneurs, especially in America, lose sight of the power of simple gratitude amid the race to success and growth. This leads me to wonder about what we are valuing; what we are basing our happiness upon? Are we becoming too busy chasing success and having more that we miss seeing the big picture of how blessed we are?
Sometimes entrepreneurs just need to step back, realize what we truly have, and be thankful for exactly that. Be grateful for our customers, our employees, our investors, and be grateful for the life these people and things afford us to live.
Give First is one of the four core values of former podcast guest David Cohen’s Tech Stars. David said, “We have always believed that if you give before you get and you do it in a way that’s non-transactional, that you end up getting more back from the network effects and the goodwill that you create.”
As mentioned before, 2020 has been a tough year for us all. When I feel like I am riding this roller coaster, both in work and in life, the best medicine is a great book. One book geared toward this topic of gratitude—and referenced by our former guest, David Cohen—is Give and Take by Adam Grant.
One important takeaway (among many) from this book is just how vital gratitude that leads us with an intense and driving desire to give back is as an entrepreneur. The premise centers around the notion that our gratitude should lead us to the mindset of: If I can be helpful in some way and give back even a portion of what I have been blessed with, I will do it. And more importantly, I don’t want or expect anything in return. I simply want to give because I am spurred to by a surplus of gratitude.
Ironically, a side bonus of gratitude and a “giving back without expectations of receiving anything in return” mentality does inevitably yield dramatic returns. You end up networking with amazing people of like-minded values and create goodwill within the corporate realm.
So as you prepare to observe Thanksgiving this year, spending that entire day pondering the things you are grateful for, I challenge you to not let it stop there. Rather than just one day of gratitude for blessings, keep on going. Sleep on it, as they say. Dream about it. Then wake up and carry those things with you as you go about your business—every day.