I’m a huge believer in the power of gratitude. For a long time in my life, what really fueled my ambition was a chip on my shoulder: I wanted to show’em. I wanted to proof all those people wrong who told me I’d never amount to anything. But with each new level of success, I realized that this was a trap. Whenever I unlocked the next level, I didn’t feel the way I imagined it would. Over time, I learned to practice gratitude, and it’s made a huge difference in my life.

I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about developing an attitude of gratitude with you. I’m going to tell you about the gratitude exercises I’ve tried and abandoned, as well as those that worked well for me and that I still practice today. I’m also going to give you gratitude worksheets to make it easier for you to follow the process and stick to it. And gratitude activities you can build into your daily life that don’t take up much time, but make a big impact on your life.

Reverse Alchemy—Turning Gold Into Shit

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of alchemy. It started out with people trying to transform cheap and easily available metals into gold. I love the idea of turning “worthless” things into something extremely valuable. It’s a great metaphor for how I’m trying to live my life.

But for a long time in my life, I practiced the exact opposite: I turned gold into shit. I wasn’t appreciating what was good in my life. I was always good at finding flaws in everything and everyone.

Rather than appreciate, I would judge and criticize.

Rather than enhance, I would dimish.

Rather than cherish, I would TK. [short word. harsh. denigrate… look down upon… something like that]

And I’m glad I operated that way. It taught me many valuable lessons, was a great source of learning, helped me experience amazing things. This attitude helped me become the person I am today. It’s path of my journey. But I no longer want that to be my default mode.

This hyper-critical and extremely judgmental way of operating is great if you don’t have a better way of operating.

If that’s the only fuel available to you to power your engine, by all means, use that. Be that never ever satisfied person, infinitely chasing the better, chastising yourself and others for not doing the best they could, not being closer to perfection than they are.

But I have discovered that there’s an easier way, for both myself and others.

It’s a more efficient, less dirty fuel to power your engines. Think gasoline versus electric cars. One wreaks a lot of havoc on the environment, the other is a lot more efficient—and will continue to become so.

The car industry is actually a great example for my personal journey. The kinds of electric cars that are available now, are very different from the electric cars ten years ago. So gasoline-driven cars made a lot of sense in the world ten years ago, whereas an electric car ten years ago did not make so much sense: it was hard to find charging stations. The engines weren’t powerful. The cars weren’t beautiful. The price was too high.

But nowadays, you can get beautiful, powerful electric cars for very competitive pricing.

TK discuss with martin

Gratitude Exercises

Reading up and getting wise on gratitude is all good. But it doesn’t mean shit if you don’t practice it. It’s like reading about push-ups. You don’t get any benefit out of it unless you actually hit the floor and break a sweat.

That’s why I’m going to share some powerful gratitude exercises with you in this post.

The Gratitude Tracker for Successful Entrepreneurs

This particular gratitude exercise is part of both my daily life and my annual routine. I get a lot out of it, and I’d encourage you to give it a try. I really do believe that it’s a hugely valuable exercise to practice.

TK

Gratitude and Leadership

I believe that Gratitude is one of the most important elements of successful leadership. If you’re leading a team, expressing gratitude to your team members can be a great source of strength.

Without a doubt, there are different approaches to leadership. There’s the approach of being really hard on people, never being satisfied with their work, setting unattainable standards and pushing people to attain them. It’s what comes natural to many leaders, because to become a successful leader, you need to set high standards—both for yourself and others. It sure came natural to me.

I’m not arguing that this approach is wrong. There are many examples of great leaders who have accomplished amazing things and made a dent in the world.

But I believe you have to know yourself and understand what’s right for you. I believe life is about more than external success: I care more about the quality of the people in my life, as well as the quality of the time I spend with them, than I do about whether we hit a 7% quarterly growth goal.

So for me, I know that expressing gratitude to my team enhances the quality of my interactions. Everyone I work with works incredibly hard, is driven, ambitious, and intentions that are aligned with our shared mission.

When I express appreciation for their dedication to our mission, it gives them energy. It inspires them to keep investing real care into it, rather than putting in the hours and checking off the boxes. It’s one of the reasons why my team and I have been able to accomplish things that other teams that are more than ten times our size haven’t been able to accomplish.