5 Ways to Be More Grateful and Why Lean Thinkers Should Care

By Ron Pereira Updated on March 4th, 2022

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” -Cicero

I’ve been thinking about gratefulness a lot lately. Being grateful is something I try to do…but often fail at.

There are many benefits to being a more grateful person. In one study done by researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a group of people were asked to make fundraising phone calls like they normally did.

A second group of people received a personal pep talk from a senior leader who explained how grateful she was for their efforts.

The result? The second group, who received the positive message, made 50% more fundraising calls than the first group.

So, make no mistake, if you’re practicing lean as a way to improve the way work is done…gratitude may be the secret weapon you haven’t wielded as much as you should.

How to Deliberately Practice Gratitude

The next question is how to deliberately practice gratitude. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out…but here is what I’ve been thinking about lately. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  1. Handwrite thank you notes. Email, or text, is better than nothing…but taking the time to handwrite a thank you note is much more meaningful to the end recipient. Even better…read the note out loud to the person before handing it to them.
  2. Start a gratefulness wall. I recently started to note one thing, or person, I am grateful for each day at 4:00 pm on a Post-it. I then stick it on the wall next to me. Just don’t forget to share your thoughts with others since gratitude kept to yourself isn’t as powerful as gratitude shared.
  3. Implement gratitude walks into your Leader Standard Work. Hat tip to my good friend Rick Foreman for this one. He’s intentionally going out every day to tell someone he is grateful for them. At a minimum, build gratitude into your daily Gemba Walks.
  4. Be silent and reflect. Personally, I’m a man of prayer and attempt to thank God daily for all the blessings, and even the crosses, in my life. But even if you aren’t into prayer I strongly encourage you to take some time to be silent and really ponder all that you have to be grateful for. Many folks like to journal which is a great way to capture what you’re grateful for. And, don’t be afraid to be thankful for the obstacles in your life since they often show you the way.
  5. Make it a habit. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to roll around every year to be thankful. Be thankful and grateful daily. I have “Gratefulness Post-it” noted at 4 pm everyday in my calendar. Without this intentional reminder, I’m confident I’ll forget to do this since it’s not yet a habit.

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedom is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” -Viktor Frankl

  1. Isaiah Kittel

    March 7, 2022 - 9:18 am

    I found this post to be quite insightful. Of course we’re taught to be kind to one another, but there is also the point that in a business setting sometimes feelings aren’t shared. Money and productivity seem to take precedent over other approaches. I like the example of the two fundraising approach, personally I enjoy receiving recognition every once in a while, but I see how feeling valued by leadership can inspire productivity. That feeling of being valued member of a team is amazing. It inspires loyalty and trust that can carry an organization far. However, in your experience, how did you handle being critical of team members work to improve flow, while also expressing gratitude? Did you have a certain approach? Or were they too different to be muddled together?

  2. Ron Pereira

    March 8, 2022 - 12:19 pm

    Thank you for reading and the comment, Isaiah. Receiving positive feedback, especially in front of others, is extremely powerful. Neuroscience backs this up as well.


    March 8, 2022 - 3:17 pm

    I love the practical approach of taking simple steps, which is a key concept of lean thinking. Often the theories and principles are simple in understanding but difficult in execution. I don’t remember the movie of the little boy with Bruce Willis in which the boy said, “I see dead people,” but as a leaniac, I tend to automatically “see waste” in a matrix view instead of what has been done well. This gratitude focus has been refreshing to refocus in a challenging season and world. Is it possible to be a more kind leader, if we’re grateful? I think so. People matter and so the change and growth continues. Excellent post and information as a reminder!

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