Is There a Business Case for Gratitude?

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US, you can almost palpably feel a sense of joy and relief in conversations with most people. Though many still have to work, the majority of Americans have a few days off to be with family and friends. The thought of reconnecting, laughing, playing, watching TV, and consuming massive quantities of food has brought a lighter spirit to us as a nation. It just feels good.

But what about the rest of the year? What would happen if this spirit pervaded an entire year? How would it affect us? And, more importantly for those of us leading businesses and organizations, is there a real business case that gratitude makes a difference? Is there anything hard about this soft emotion?

I think the answer is, “Yes!” and to help you see this, I want to share with you five “IF” statements.

1. If you think that success matters

Years ago when I first began researching this question, I came across a study conducted by COS (Community of Science) of top executives. When they asked them the question about what they attributed their success to, only 15% attributed their success to skill and knowledge factors. On the other hand, they attributed 85% of their success to attitudinal factors. I found this quite fascinating. Most companies and organizations spend so much time and money on skill and knowledge factors—and so little on attitudinal factors like gratitude—even though the research clearly suggests that attitudinal factors like gratitude are more critical to success than skill factors. Which means that if you care about success, you ought to cultivate the attitude of gratitude as a way of living.

2. If you think that resiliency matters

If there’s one thing that’s certain for every business on the planet it’s that’s nothing works out perfectly. Every business faces setbacks. Every business has competitors. Every business has employees who don’t get things done on time. Every business has obstacles. Etc.

The question isn’t, “Will we have problems?” The only question is, “How will we respond when they do occur?” And the key attitude for overcoming obstacles and setbacks is gratitude—the choice to be grateful regardless of what the circumstances might appear to dictate.

In fact, Verne Harnish shared a link to a video today about a CEO who talked about gratitude and how it helped him when his chemical fertilizer building burned to the ground and he lost a half million dollars of real cash (i.e. it wasn’t insured). Most owners would have been devastated. However, Barrett Ersek chose to be grateful. And because he chose to be grateful rather than angry, it led him to discover a new organic fertilizer which is what he calls his “$100M idea!”

While we as owners and leaders usually prefer to talk about hard ideas and numbers, the reality is that attitudinal factors like gratitude and resiliency have far more to do with our success than we care to admit. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is often the difference between those who hang in there a little bit longer than those who don’t. So if you think that resiliency matters (like Barrett), then you’ll want to become a master at the art of being grateful every day!

3. If you think that morale matters

If you haven’t watched my video on Leader Draft and the role that morale plays on employee productivity, make sure you watch that video right now (Note: Leader Draft is currently the second video on that page).

Morale matters. And specifically, your morale matters. How you feel affects the performance and productivity of your entire workforce. So, who do you think has a more productive and high performing business—the leader who’s frustrated and angry at a setback or problem or the leader who is grateful everyday regardless of what happens—good or bad?

In other words, if you want to quickly raise the morale and productivity of your people, the quickest, easiest, and fastest way for you to do that is to raise your morale by choosing to be grateful.

4. If you think that acquiring new customers matters

What’s one of the first things sales people say in sales training 101? You got it! People buy from people they know, like, and trust. Hello! Two of those three items are affected by gratitude.

When you meet someone and they’re irritated or frustrated or angry, how likable do you perceive them to be? Not much. On the other hand, if you meet someone and they’re calm and relaxed and smiling, how likable do you perceive them to be? A lot. In other words, when someone has the attitude of gratitude (and they practice it day in and day out), they’re perceived to be more likable.

And not only that, when someone is perceived to be more likable, how much easier is it to assign trust to them? A whole lot easier. So, if you want to win more customers over, you’ll want to make sure that you (and all your people who have direct contact with customers) practice the attitude of gratitude because you’ll automatically have a distinct advantage over every competitor who doesn’t. Remember, it’s know, LIKE and trust.

5. If you think that retaining customers matters

I’m sure you’ve bought from businesses (in the past) which have clearly communicated to you that you didn’t matter to them. It may have been the lack of follow up or follow through. It may have been the way their “customer service” responded to you. It may have been the way they interacted with you (in words, actions or attitude). But, one way or another, you chose to not use them again—not because of the product or service per se—but because of the people selling or servicing that product or service.

So, once again, who do you think does the best job at retaining customers? The grateful company or the indifferent one? When you or I interact with a company and it’s clear they’re grateful people who are grateful for our business, you want to continue working with them. Even more, you want to recommend them to your friends because you know they’ll have a great experience.

In other words, any way you add it up, the attitude of gratitude has a very real and convincing business case (that is if you think that success, resiliency, morale, customer acquisition and customer retention matter). Though it may appear to be soft at first glance, gratitude really does produce hard results in the real world.

So, how are you doing? Do you possess the attitude of gratitude? Are you thankful every day regardless of what happens—good or bad? Do you trust that no matter what happens, somehow it’ll all work out for the good. If not, may I encourage you to make a switch and simply choose (which is what an attitude is—a choice) to be grateful every day!

If you will, I’m confident that you’ll see very real and tangible results in your workplace and in your revenues over the course of the next 30, 60 and 90 days. So, why not turn Thanksgiving into a 365 day a year celebration (minus all the food :-). If you will, you’ll never want to turn back. Trust me, it’s a far better way to live as well as to run a company.

To your accelerated success!

P.S. And Happy Thanksgiving to you regardless of where you live on planet earth!