I’m back from India.*
Our work there – serving organizations wanting to practice servant leadership more effectively – went well.
But the trip has tired me out.
So, I’m glad that this is a holiday week in the US.
Not that the Thanksgiving holiday is unique here. From prehistory, human beings have celebrated at harvest times with expressions of gratitude. Thanksgiving celebrations can be found around the world.
Indeed, in India Thanksgiving is celebrated most widely on August 15, especially in Goa.
Anyway, here’s what I am going to do this Thanksgiving week at home.
First, I’m going to rest, reflect and practice “the art of systematic neglect.”
That’s a phrase from Robert K. Greenleaf, the man who coined the term “servant leadership” in his classic 1970 essay, The Servant as Leader.**
“Systematic neglect” means selectively choosing to neglect the endless and urgent interruptions of the digital world to reconnect with what’s really critical. Doing so is among the distinctive servant leadership practices. I am looking forward it.
Second, I’m going to consider the things for which I am grateful.
A lot of servant-leaders I know make a regular practice of giving thanks. They realize the importance of gratitude.
So did Cicero, the great Roman philosopher. Cicero didn’t mince words when he said:
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others.”
Recent studies reinforce the importance of gratitude.
According to the British Psychological Society, “Multiple studies now suggest that people who feel more gratitude are much more likely to have higher levels of happiness, and lower levels of depression and stress.”
Furthermore, gratitude, like trust, makes organizations run more smoothly:
“The ‘moral’ effects of emotional gratitude are likely to be as important in maintaining individual relationships as in maintaining a smooth running society. People who feel more gratitude in life should be more likely to notice they have been helped, to respond appropriately, and to return the help at some future point. If the grateful person reciprocates the favour, then the other person is more likely to reciprocate the new favour, causing an upward spiral of helping and mutual support.” ***
That’s what you are likely to find in a workplace that embraces servant leadership: “an upward spiral of helping and mutual support.”
So, between Cicero and the British Psychological Society, I’m convinced:
Let’s make every day Thanksgiving Day!
What do you think? Are you with me? Whether you are in the US or elsewhere, how do you celebrate thanksgiving? Let us know.
As always, we appreciate your views.
*I wrote last week’s blog in India: “15 Great Quotes from Mohandas Gandhi”
**See what you think of this post: “Servant Leadership and the Art of Systematic Neglect”
*** From the British Psychological Society, “Gratitude – Parent of all virtues”