In this month’s newsletter we will examine the power of gratitude as a proven antidote for reducing stress and attracting successful outcomes. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence defines gratitude as “a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside of yourself, or when you notice and relish little pleasures.” According to the experts, gratitude is within your power, which means- you can tap into it whenever you need.
Thank your mentor
Mentors have the uncanny ability to alter our lives personally and professionally, often without even realizing it. When mentorees are in the trenches, tackling development goals and juggling multiple priorities, it can be difficult to pan out to the wider perspective and see your mentor’s impact. Quite often a mentoree will share with us a long list of things they have gained from their mentoring partnership, but then the mentor from that same partnership will worry that the mentoree isn’t getting what they need or enjoying the experience. Take a quick minute to make sure your mentor knows how much you appreciate them. Over the next few weeks pay attention to the lessons you are getting from your mentor and express your gratitude. Be sure to explicitly state what you like about being in a partnership with them.
By the way, it is never too late to thank a mentor- even one you worked with years ago. If you have achieved a particular career goal or maybe even felt inspired to enroll as a mentor yourself, send a note and tell them how they left an impression on you.
Use your mentoring practice to… pivot:
There is no better time than now to use the skills you’ve polished as a mentoring program participant to stand out as someone who is rising to the occasion and demonstrating leadership potential. Here are some examples:
Remote working: Many mentoring partners need to collaborate from a distance, using virtual resources to stay in touch. Think about the strategies you’ve used to maintain effective communication with your partner and put those to use with your day-to-day work. Demonstrate technological savviness for others and share tips for staying productive despite location.
Work/life balance and time management: Often mentorees learn wellness techniques from their mentors as a means for reducing stress and eliminating emotional triggers. Now, more than ever, is the time to integrate some of these ideas into your new approach to work.
Problem-solving: Your mentor has likely shared anecdotes about how they have helped their teams navigate challenges or difficult projects. Maybe you’ve even had an opportunity to observe their leadership skills in action. If you’ve learned a tip or trick that might improve a process or make your manager’s life easier, share.
Keep a joy reserve
Brené Brown, professor and lecturer, writes a great deal about living a life full of gratitude and joy. In her work, she has warned against “foreboding joy”- our reluctance to let ourselves feel happiness and joy when something good happens because we’re immediately nervous that it will be taken from us. If our supervisor tells us we did a good job on something, we might not be able to relish our accomplishment because we’re overwhelmed by a trickier project that’s running off track. Being selected for greater responsibility or a new assignment, might simply trigger worry about messing it up and disappointing others. If something great happens, let your mentor know. Your mentoring relationship is a safe place to celebrate achievement and build a reserve of happiness to cover you if truly anxious moments hit.
Make gratitude a daily practice
Establishing gratitude as daily practice or routine helps to start your day on a positive note. Taking time to observe simple pleasures is a way to acknowledge the value of the things you have in your life. Sometimes even focusing on a simple task such as tidying your desk can create a moment for quiet reflection. Start with gratitude and make time for it throughout the day.
Here are some ideas to get you started. Write down five things that you’re grateful for:
- Time spent with your mentor
- A fulfilling and purposeful career
- An act of kindness from a co-worker
- Warmer days
- A good cup of coffee
Another way to practice gratitude is by acting as a beacon of positivity for others. For example:
- Stay above office gossip
- Be a voice of optimism
- Pay kindness forward
- Regularly write notes of appreciation
Write your own story- if you don’t like it, change it
If you’re feeling lackluster about your current position and hoping for something new, it shows. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves but answer a simple “how are things going for you?” with a heavy sigh. Maybe we aren’t where we want to be in our career or are unsure how to make the move to the next position or a new department. Try changing the story. When people ask how things are going, tell them that you’re participating in a mentoring program, feeling energized to learn new leadership competencies and make the jump for applying to something new.