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Gratitude List

Gratitude List

Every Leader should have a gratitude list, comprising of the people and things we are grateful for. One of the key differentiators between ordinary and extraordinary leaders is gratitude. GREAT leaders are GRATEful.

In Last week’s post (Giving Away of Oneself) , we talked about the giving part of Thanksgiving. This week we dive into the other portion, gratitude.

For me, I desire to be a grateful person. That desire does not always lead to expression. I think we are all inherently grateful people, many times it just doesn’t make it outside of our hearts and minds.

I strongly believe that in order to lead people well, leaders must be grateful. On this week of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share some things I have been reflecting on in my personal and professional life surrounding the concept of gratitude. It has been a good exercise for me and I hope you find this equally beneficial.

Here are the six people and things that should make every leader’s list:


Here is the deal, good or bad, none of us are physically here without parents! I was fortunate to have great parents who modeled what serving others looks like. All I had to do was emulate them. I had a front row seat to watching them give away their time, talent, and treasures to others. They easily make my gratitude list.

Maybe this wasn’t the case for you. You may find it hard to find gratitude in this particular area. If that’s the case, consider being grateful for the resilience and perseverance you developed in the process. The hardships and struggles you walked through are what molded you into the person you are in this time and place.

Family at Home

When my Paw Paw passed more than eleven years ago, I asked my Maw Maw what words she would associate with him as I was preparing comments for his funeral. She said he was a good provider for the family. When I walk out of the door each morning, I hope to make a difference in my community. More importantly I want to provide for Shannon, Ashtyn, and Grant. It is easily to get caught up on the provision of things and loose sight of my responsibility to provide grace, love, and care for them. They are consistently and steadily list makers!

Our immediate family are the people we all should be most grateful for. They are the people who can all too often get less, when we give more to others. Their sacrifice is the basis of our professional growth. They are consistently there when we leave the house and will always be there when we return home, regardless of how our day went. Without their support you are not who you are. Family stands in the shadow that your success casts. Be grateful for them.

Giants with Big Shoulders

I am who I am because of people who came before me. Whether it was from a professional, personal, or volunteer capacity many people came before me. Sometimes it is easy to forget that while we focus on building our own careers and service platforms. Named or nameless they remain on my gratitude list.

I once heard that, “we all stand on shoulders of giants in our careers.” In the movies, a giant’s shoulders are big and broad. They are easy to stand on and strong enough to support us. No matter who we are, someone came before us. We stand on their successes, their failures, and their efforts. Their accomplishments provide a Hidden Foundation for us to build our futures on. We should be grateful for those strong shoulders we place our feet on.

Dear Friends

I am fortunate to have many people to call friend. Friend is a term that can easily water down the importance of dear friends and their significance in my life. There are countless hours of conversation, advice, counsel, and walking through the craziness of life together with them. They make me better by just simply being in their presence. I connect with them on a different level. Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” My average is high because of them…not me. My true friends make the list all day, every day.

Friends are the people that walk in when everyone else walks out. They show up when you least expect it, yet you are not surprised. They send the text, the message, or write the note that lifts you up when you are down. Their timing is perfect, always. The message always speaks to you. You run to them to celebrate or you run to them to cry, either way, you immediately head in their direction. True friends lead the applause when things go well, they hold the umbrella for you when the storms come. They are those people you think of first and think of most. Every dear friend is a reason for gratitude.

Initial Investors

When I think of the Initial Investors in my life, I think of my grandparents, coaches, mentors, pastors, and teachers (and everyone listed above).  They provided guidance on my decisions and believed in my market potential. All of them saw more in me than I saw in myself. They poured into my life, with nothing expected in return for that investment. This is counterintuitive to what an investment is. They were not selfish by seeking a return in me, they were selfless in making the investment. My list overflows with investors.

Investing can be a risky business. It is the risk/reward that comes with the territory. Generally, investors seek to grow a return on their investment for personal gain. Those who chose to invest in us early, made the contribution for our gain. Be grateful for the contributions they made into you.


Applicable to you or not, my faith is critical to me. It humbles me, directs me, encourages me, and provides light in seasons of darkness. The more I grow in my faith, the less dependent I am on me. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  My faith serves as the paper on which my gratitude list of people and things to be grateful for is written upon.

A component of faith is prayer. I have always had this deep-rooted thought to acknowledge gratitude for those who have prayed for me. Not the ones that told me, but the ones that consistently did without me ever knowing. That is powerful stuff. I often wonder who those people are and what they prayed for. Regardless, I am grateful for their intentionality and thoughtfulness.


Here is a really good exercise to remind you of the need to be grateful for others and the things we have in life. I remember my pastor, Mike Linch, sharing this thought from the stage one Sunday. He shared that he saves all of his notes of gratitude he receives. When seasons get tough or you feel underappreciated, just pull them out. Spend some time reading through them. I have personally done this before, and it makes a world of difference for me.

So why is gratitude such an important attribute of a leader? Gratitude turns our attention away from us and redirects our attention on others. This can humble us when we are successful and can change our perspective when life and career hits hardest.

Want to know something? The best way to appear on someone else’s list of gratitude is to be a grateful person. How grateful of a person are you? What lists are you making?

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