“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” —Willie Nelson
I love being around people that are grateful. The have a full appreciation for life, for acts of kindness and service, and for other people and their story. Grateful people have a way of making situations and environments better because of their attitude and approach to life. Grateful people are humble, our selfless, and always thinking about ways to make other people feel better. Grateful people are great leaders and teammates because they recognize they cannot do it alone and recognize the beauty and giftings of other people. They have a way to celebrate others success and get more excited about other people succeeding as they do themselves.
I have had the privilege of coaching some outstanding young men that have been extremely coachable and were great teammates. There are no better young men to coach than those that possess the quality of being grateful because they are hungry for teaching, coaching, and appreciate you wanting what is best for them. One young man I think of is a young man named Jeff. He graduated a couple of years ago and he loved to play basketball. He did not possess the most natural ability but, he worked extremely hard and was an incredibly encouraging teammate. After every practice, he would go up and shake every coaches hand and say thank you. At the end of every game, he sought out the officials and the scorekeepers and he would express appreciation. He always encouraged his teammates and was amazing during practice, games, and in the locker room. All of this started with him being grateful to experience our basketball program at that moment in his life.
On senior night, we do a special thing by tradition, and have our seniors write their “Legacy report’ which is their life story (obituary) and they read it to our younger players and their families. This has become a sacred process and it is amazing hearing an 18-year-old write their vision for their life. When Jeff, delivered his story, his story was not like any other story we had heard. Now, I am not saying the other seniors’ stories were not good, they are all beautiful but, Jeff went to another level of detail in his Legacy report. He went through every single player (Freshmen-Seniors) and coach and manager, trainer, and supporter, having to be at least 40 people and he thanked each person for the way they had spoken life to him and encouraged him. His deep level of grateful expression was unlike anything I had seen or heard in my lifetime. He celebrated big things, small thing, and all moments in between and how each of those people had inspired him and pushed him to be the best he could be. It was beautiful and Jeff taught me what living life through a grateful lens truly looks like.
Great leaders are grateful for everyone’s contribution. They celebrate other people’s success more than their own and realize they can’t do it all by themselves. Life is a big team sport and in order to experience true joy, you must have a grateful heart and live a life for others.