Gratitude is a Verb

Gratitude is one of the most powerful leadership tools I know. Create a practice of noticing and expressing gratitude – no matter what your situation – and you create the possibility for big impact and joy.

This week has been full of strong messages to me about gratitude – wonderful reminders and affirmation of the life I’m curating as I help leaders who are facing a crossroad moment curate their dream careers and lives.

I’m writing this on my way back home on the train with my sister, after spending a few days with mom in San Diego.  My heart is full as I continue to set an intention to be as supportive a sister as my sister is for me. Showing my gratitude through my actions. That intention continues to organically build upon itself in wonderful ways.

Yesterday, I felt joy as two strangers gave my mom a gift by choosing to change their plans; inviting us in to the two homes where my mom grew up!  They each sensed the importance of the moment and stopped what they were doing.  They’ve inspired me to look for ways to help others – even when not “convenient” or planned.

But showing gratitude isn’t only for the “good” parts.  Character is grown in all of life’s moments, and how we choose to re-act.  Choosing gratitude can feel like a leap of faith, or a courageous act.

When our son was in hospital battling brain lymphoma I was shocked, scared (and a wide range of other emotions), and every day I created a list of all the things I was grateful for. I remember how hard that exercise was that first morning in the cancer ward. But by the end of the 3rd day, my list was long as I became more and more aware.  That daily practice has served me well.

In relationships, I’ve learned that our brains cannot hold two opposing thoughts/feelings at the same time. i.e. we get to choose whether we think and feel “You really annoy me” vs “I’m grateful for how you x or y.”  Being willing to choose gratitude will in some cases require us to let go of many things, like fear, anger, resentment, and other limiting beliefs. There may be feelings of vulnerability.  It’s okay. The payoff is significant.

Creating Your Personal Gratitude Process

STEP 1:  Giving Thanks

During the Thanksgiving Holiday in North America, many of us will be expressing our thanks. Instead of waiting until you’re sitting at the table, I invite you to begin now by asking: what am I thankful for today?  And why?

STEP 2: Showing/Embodying Gratitude
What are the actions you will take to show your gratitude today?  Why?

  • “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

STEP 3: Observing and Building Momentum                      Notice and Observe what happens to others when you show your gratitude. How does the other person feel and how do you know? 

What happens to you when you show your gratitude?  How do you feel?  Why? 

  • “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson
  • “If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner

More Gratitude Wisdom

  • “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous
  • “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
  • “Gratitude will shift you to a higher frequency, and you will attract much better things.” – Rhonda Byrne“
  • “Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence, we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training for the heart.” – Larissa Gomez
  • “Today I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says all things are possible.” –  Anonymous
  • “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
  • “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
  • “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
  • “I looked around and thought about my life. I felt grateful. I noticed every detail. That is the key to time travel. You can only move if you are actually in the moment. You have to be where you are to get where you need to go.” – Amy Poehler
  • “Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.” – Eckhart Tolle
  • “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop
  • “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward 

I invite you to set an intention to join me in both observing and expressing gratitude this month.  As always, let me know when you see shifts occur!

To your success – filled with gratitude, awareness and intention.


Making Time For You, Helps Others

When we think of time to refuel as “self care” we often put it at the bottom of our list (sad, but so often true).  Instead, if we reframe vacation or time away from work as a means to ensure we have the capacity to ultimately help others – putting the proverbial oxygen mask on ourselves first – our motivation and way we prioritize can shift.

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Now is the perfect time.

It’s almost September?! Summer in the northern hemisphere is winding down, and anticipation of the nine months ahead is building: Opening Nights in arts organizations are being planned, new jobs are starting, new initiatives are getting ready to launch.

Before you leap into the next nine months, these next two weeks offer a perfect opportunity to reflect, take stock and envision how YOU want your upcoming year to look like.

I find myself thinking about this in my own life, and in fact have now made the end of August a part of my intention-setting practice as I envision the months to come. Interestingly, this is also a time of year when there is a wonderful surge in leaders reaching out to me for coaching around common themes of transition and being in a crossroads moment.

Do any of the following resonate with questions you may be asking yourself?

How do I shift my leadership style? I have a client who had spent the past three years successfully leading a turnaround as CEO. She had exceeded her goals, was acknowledged and honored by all, but she knew that the way in which she achieved organizational success was not sustainable – for her. She wanted to continue to have big impact, but not at the expense of personal relationships, health, sanity, sleep, etc.. Leaving the organization she loved was definitely on the table. After taking time to reflect, she created a new framework for being a successful leader. She identified the “causes and conditions” she needed in both her personal and professional life to have the most impact and thus the most joy. She stayed, and is providing the strong leadership her organization and community need.

How do I position myself and prioritize my time in the first 90-days of a new job? A couple of months ago I was coaching two very different leaders, both about to begin a new job – one was a first-time Executive Director and one was a veteran Executive Director. In both cases, for them to have the organizational impact they were seeking, they needed a way to quickly (like, by week one!) and effectively engage and empower their board and staff. Instead of jumping into a To Do list, they invested in looking inward first to create clarity in their authentic voice and purpose. The resulting actions, internal and external communications, prioritization, and plans flowed effortless from this foundational knowledge – ultimately helping their teams move forward on the same page.

I’ve had it. How can I find a better job, without all this disfunction so I can be more effective, be valued, be happy, have more balance, be paid better, etc., etc.? By the time many leaders reach out to me, they’re often ready to resign. They’re done. I get it. I’ve been there! I’ve learned that when you’re at that point, it’s a great opportunity to think about how you will be different in a new job. And then, make that shift now. “Even if…” you believe there are external forces outside of your control (a challenging board, boss, etc.) that are making it impossible for you to be your best. The results can be powerful when you shift your limiting beliefs and leadership strategies.

I was working with a Development Director who came to realize that in every job he held, he reached a point where he believed people were holding him back, and thus he resigned and moved to the next job. That pattern kept repeating itself. He was successful but was tired of moving. Through a process, he identified ways he was contributing to this dynamic, learned two new strategies and “magically” people around him began to react differently. He felt valued, empowered, and with a voice at the table. In his case, he still ended up leaving, but it was no longer out of frustration – it was so that he could have greater impact.

How do I get my current organization to see me as a viable candidate for an elevated role? Repositioning yourself within your organization can be one of the most challenging (and most rewarding) opportunities. A couple years back, I was coaching an extraordinary artistic director through a search process, with the intention for him to move from an assistant role into the top leadership position. We used a process both to develop and then communicate his “elevated” impact messaging, and then created strategies to overcome the Search Committee’s assumptions that they already knew everything about him. He got the job.

• How do I know when it’s time to make a change? Your situation is not terrible, you may even believe that it’s “just how it is” in the field you’re in. You may have limiting beliefs substantiated by industry best practices and traditions. I have a lot to say about this subject, and if this question is resonating with you, I invite you to scroll through some of my past Blog Posts. 

The bottom line: trust how you feel. If you don’t have a spring in your step, if you keep feeling a pulling… take some time to imagine what it would be like to feel your “peak moment” feeling, every day. Dig in to why you may not be feeling that right now. Dig in to what’s holding you back. I am proud and honored to now have over 200 leaders who were in this place, and who are now in their dream career/life after taking a big breath and taking a leap into themselves. We need you BEing your best. People are counting on you!

• How do I find/get offered the job I want? Well, that’s a longer discussion! I’ll share something that I know for sure (and this is where I start waving my arms around): if you don’t yet have foundational “intel” and clarity on yourself (your true value, your impact, what brings you joy, and the unique causes and conditions you need to consistently BE that) – it’s all a crap shoot! If you DO have clarity, but don’t have the elevated impact language to effectively communicate it to others – the outcomes can be confusing and frustrating. I’ve seen candidates that were PERFECT for a role, not get the offer and then carry that rejection forward. I’ve seen Search candidates get the job they want and six months later, not be happy.

Have you been asking yourself questions like these?

As a rule, my initial answers to these questions often begin with: “It depends. What do you (really) want, and why? What is the impact you are meant to have (no matter what your role)? And, therefore what do you need to create the possibility for achieving that?”

If we don’t go deep and identify what’s at your core, you might as well just “google” these “How do I…” questions.

Go on, try it! You’ll get lots of great information about how to define your leadership style, how to write a great cover letter, learn about interview strategies, time management tools, self-help ways to bolster your confidence, and more.

And, if you are at a crossroads moment, NONE of those will create the breakthrough awareness and results that you are (really) seeking.


Now, this is usually the part of the article where I offer something like “3 Steps to Getting What You Want.” In fact, I do have some past Blogs that offer specific Guiding Questions to help you begin. And of course, my Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy guides leaders through this entire process.

But today, my invitation is to simply carve out the time to think about yourself.

Take some time before September is upon us to reflect on the remaining months of 2019, your life, your career. Take stock of what is bringing you joy, and how you are making a difference in the lives of others in those moments. You are. See what percolates up, and where those thoughts take you.

Join me in putting your feet up – by a lake, river, beach, on a couch or desk – and envision how YOU will create the impact you are meant to have, and the dream career/life you (really) want!

To your success,


P.S. – did you see my goofy video on FB and LinkedIn as I opened the boxes with my book with Oprah, Melinda Gates and 47 other women leaders?! I’m so honored to be a part of this inspirational project – and am excited to be signing and personalizing copies for the first 40 people that CLICK HERE and place an order.