A sign saying thank you

There are billions of books, articles, journals, and thoughts about how to run a successful business and be the most profitable. Search “run a good business” in Google and you get 441,000,000 hits. Clearly, a lot of people have a lot to say about this, yet there isn’t enough time in a lifespan to cover it all.

While I’m by no means an expert in the business realm, I’m a small business employee and I have a tangible experience and perspective in the job market. So, naturally, I do have my own two cents on the subject. Generosity and gratitude can have one of the most profound effects on your business, beyond what is easily measurable.

I’m not the first person to value generosity and gratitude in business. I’m not going to convince you through research, metrics, and data on why generosity and gratitude are so important. You can look to In the Company of Givers and Takers and The Business Value of Gratitude for that. Instead, I want to share two stories on how they have directly impacted me. I’m sure my experience is not unique, and my hope is that you’ll be connected to your own experiences with generosity and gratitude.

Generosity and gratitude are a balm to my life. It keeps work meaningful and special, versus a daily grind to get through. I’ve been the recipient and the initiator of both, and in every instance it leaves me feeling more connected to what is important.

In one instance, we had been working hard for a client with a complex but exciting build. There were a lot of long hours, challenges, and setbacks, but through it all gratitude was continually expressed to one another. This created an atmosphere of camaraderie between us. Having strictly professional working relationships are great, but my favorite client work is where our connection goes deeper than the day-to-day.

Generosity and gratitude often are the keys that unlock a special type of working relationship. At the end of our build, the client sent everyone on our team a free week of Plated, a recipe and food service. This unexpected show of generosity and gratitude was deeply warming and heart touching. It reconnected for me that, at the end of the day, we are all people, living our lives, and doing our best to make things meaningful and joy filled. How special–that I got to share in someone else’s journey and they in mine.

I’m a big fan of Disney. Recently, Disney created Inner Workings, a short film detailing the struggle between the head and the heart. The film shows the struggle of a man who wants to truly live life, but his head keeps stopping his heart and forcing him to stay the course, not take any risks, and ultimately not really live. You see him in a mundane and boring job, pushing buttons and living out a meaningless existence. Eventually, his head realizes that its priorities are a lesser goal and gives his heart permission to be part of the equation. What’s incredible is that not only is the man’s life transformed, but the lives around him are impacted too. In the end, he doesn’t throw all responsibilities to the wind, but he lives a more fully integrated life.

I believe that when we operate from generosity and gratitude we are living from our hearts. In a society that is so fast-paced, critical, and limited to 140 characters or less, it can be difficult to engage our hearts. Sure, we might get the job done. It might be on time and on budget. Those are all great things, but on its own, it’s just keeping the lights on and machine chugging along. There is no heart, and it’s easy to miss the meaning and connection with the real meaning of life.

We have a colleague that we often work on client projects together. He is a joy to work with and has sent countless leads our way. Internally, we frequently talk about how great he is, how much we like working with him, and how grateful we are for his leads. It would have been easy to leave things at that. However, after being personally touched by our client’s generosity of Plated, we were inspired to pay it forward. It was such a delight to find an upscale restaurant in his community and send him and his wife out on a really nice date night. Afterwards, I kept noticing a smile on my lips for the rest of the day.

These may seem like small things, but they take business to the next level. It’s like a breath of fresh air. I am so grateful that I work for a company that gets it and prioritizes generosity and gratitude. It is so much easier to act on in an environment that appreciates it. I’d argue that even if it’s not a culture at your organization, it is something you could help build.

What are some examples of generosity or gratitude that impacted you?

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