It’s November, and this is typically the month where people start talking about gratitude. How thankful they are for their family, for their job, for the Starbucks down the street… It starts to feel like people are thankful for absolutely everything, and I can’t help but think that a lot of it is fake.
Don’t get me wrong, gratitude is a great thing. You should look for the things you are thankful for as much as possible. It makes you a better and happier person.
But if I’m being really honest, I find a lot of the gratitude and #Blessed posts a bit shallow and insincere.
For me, ownership and gratitude are very closely related. And they should both be continuous, not just for the month of November.
When most people think about ownership, they tend to look at the more negative aspects of it. Owning your mistakes and things like that. That’s absolutely part of it; I’ve talked a lot about owning my past mistakes and failures.
But that’s only a fraction of what ownership is for me.
I believe it’s just as important to own your successes. Not only does this make you feel better about yourself, but it also lays the groundwork for future wins. When you know what you did right, you can do it again.
Ownership also includes owning up to when you need help and being thankful for the people and resources that provided it. Nobody does absolutely everything all alone, and recognizing the people in your corner will go a long way towards keeping them there.
Knowing who you are and striving to improve yourself is another form of ownership. Embracing the quirks and personality traits that make you who you are is awesome and important. But knowing when and where those things might hold you back and learning to improve them is equally important.
Owning things like your time, your standards and expectations, your goals and desires: these are all things I’m constantly thinking about because it helps me be accountable to myself and others. When I own those things, it’s easier to see where the gaps are if things don’t go my way. It also helps to put the things I cannot control into perspective.
At the heart of all of this ownership is thankfulness.
For myself and probably most people, it takes a long time to be able to say you’re thankful for your mistakes, but I am. Every mistake I’ve made—and some of them have been nearly catastrophic—has gotten me to where I am today. Some of them were really hard lessons learned in the hardest way possible, but I came out on the other side with more knowledge and more determination.
Sometimes, your mistakes really can be catastrophic. I’m lucky that I’ve never lost a place to live or driven somebody incredibly important to me away. For those who’ve been through things like that, I know that hearing “you should be thankful for the lessons learned” can sound pretty harsh and/or unrealistic. So I’m not going to say that. Some mistakes or bad choices can be extremely hard to come back from; I’ve seen it in people around me. I will say, however, that I hope that it brings you more strength and knowledge than you had before, and hopefully you will eventually find peace, if not thankfulness, with yourself.
That being said, I do think it’s important to own your mistakes, especially the ones that you can move on and up from. And then be thankful that you learned something that will potentially make your life better or easier in the future.
Ownership and gratitude take practice, much more than you’d think. It’s easy to say that we’re thankful for the people around us who help and support us. But do they know how thankful you are? If they don’t, you might not be practicing gratitude as much as you think.
It starts by owning and acknowledging who they are and why they’re so important to you.
I talk about my old business partner, Geof, all the time because I honestly don’t think I would have gotten as far as I have without him and the opportunity he gave me. Because of him, I took the DISC personality assessment for the first time. Because of him, I began sales training. And because of him, I learned what it was like to own and operate a business.
But both before and after Geof, there’s a long line of people who have helped me in different parts and at different times in my life. Some have stuck around for the long haul, others have come and gone. They’ve all made an impact, and I’m thankful for every one of them.
In a way, I’m just as thankful for the thing around me that help me get through my day. From my journal and whiteboard to video games and dinner with my family. Without them, I’d be lost and scatterbrained in my business. And without others, I’d never get my mind away from work, and I’d suffer a lot for it. It’s part of owning that I can’t do everything I want without the tools, resources, and necessary breaks from work that I have.
Maybe above all of this, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity and desire to learn about and own who I am. Self-improvement starts with self-awareness, and then you can grow from there.
So yes, gratitude is extremely important, but first, you have to own the things you’re thankful for. Knowing why you’re thankful is more important than telling everybody that you are.