Leading with Gratitude

John Maxwell says, “What we appreciate appreciates, and what we depreciate depreciates.” That’s why this week we’re talking about one of the most important components of leadership––gratitude. Gratitude helps leaders by eliminating self-sabotaging traits and providing a greater perspective.  

After John’s lesson, Mark Cole and Traci Morrow come back to offer some application and share how they are applying John’s teaching to their own lives and leadership. 

Our BONUS resource for this episode is the “Leading with Gratitude Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below. 


Mark Cole:       Hey leaders, I'm Mark Cole. And I want to welcome you to today's episode on the Maxwell Leadership Podcast. This is the podcast that adds value to leaders who multiply value to others. This week, we're talking about one of the most important components of leadership. That is gratitude. John Maxwell says that what we appreciate appreciates, and what we depreciate depreciates. Gratitude helps leaders by eliminating self-sabotaging traits and providing a greater perspective. After John's lesson today, my co-host, Traci Morrow and I will come back and offer some application, and share how we, at Maxwell Leadership, are applying John Maxwell's teachings to our own lives and our own leadership.

Each week we provide a bonus resource, which is a fill in the blank PDF that accompanies John's lesson. If you'd like to download your copy of that resource, just go to Maxwellpodcast.com/gratitude and click on the bonus resource button. Now get ready. Be grateful. Learn to be even more grateful because here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  Always make your gratitude greater than your success. Always make your gratitude greater than your success. Increased gratitude is essential for lifetime growth. Only a small percentage of people are continually successful over the long run. These outstanding few recognize that every success comes from the assistance of many other people, and they are continually grateful for this support. Conversely, many people whose success stops at some point are in that position because they have cut themselves off from everyone who has helped them. They view themselves as the sole source of their achievements. And as they become more self-centered and isolated, they lose their creativity and ability to succeed. Continually acknowledge others, their contributions, and you will automatically create room in your mind and in the world for your greater success. You will be motivated to achieve even more for those who have helped you. Focus on appreciating and thanking others, and the conditions will always grow to support your increasing success.

And I put it another way here in your notes. What we appreciate appreciates. Wow. Gets better. What we depreciate depreciates. We see the value in people and things through proactive gratitude. Once we see this value, we naturally treat these people and things with greater respect. People want to work with people who appreciate them. I underline this statement. Resources are drawn to where they are valued most. The world responds to gratitude by making more of everything we appreciate available to us.

I had lunch the other day with a fellow named Rob. So when I went into the restaurant where we were going to eat, he was talking to a friend of his. And as I came in, I could tell that he had great value to that person. And so he introduced her to me and said, "John, Kathy has really contributed me." And said some very nice things. And off she went. And so he sat down for lunch and he looked at me and he said, "John, I'm practicing your book." And I said, "Well, that's good." I said, "Tell me what practice it was." I knew what he was talking about. He was talking about 25 Ways to Win with People. And one of the things I say is, compliment people in front of other people. I was just practicing your book. And I looked at him. I said, "Rob, I saw it. And that makes me feel good that you practice the book." I said, "Just practice it every day."

Listen, there's something about expressing gratitude to people that is essential, not only for them to hear, but for you to give. Those who add to us, draw us to them. And those who subtract, call us to withdraw. Gratitude, by its very nature, also automatically works to eliminate three mental characteristics that most undermine individual success in an interactive world. Number one is isolation. Number two is egotism. And number three is arrogance. Henry Ward Beecher said, "A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets what he deserves." Or the more you complain, the less you'll obtain. That works. Doesn't it?

Oprah Winfrey said, "Keep a grateful journal. Every night, list five things that happened this day that you're grateful for. What it will begin to do is change your perspective of your day and your life. If you can learn to focus on what you have, you will always see that the universe is abundant, and you will have more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you'll never have enough. If you learn to appreciate more of what you already have, you'll find yourself having more to appreciate." How true it is.

I love the story of an immigrant shopkeeper, whose son came to him one day complaining. He said, "Dad, I don't understand how you run this store. You keep your accounts payable in a cigar box. Your accounts receivable are on the spindle. And all your cash is in the register." He said, "You're never going to know what your profits are." And the immigrant shopkeeper father said to him, "Son, let me tell you something. When I arrived in this land, all I owned was the pants I was wearing. Now your sister's an art teacher, your brother's a doctor, you're a CPA. Your mother and I own a house and a car and this little store. Add that all up and subtract the pants, and that is your profit." Be grateful.

Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back everybody. What a short teaching from John, but what a powerful point. Doesn't take long sometimes to remind us what we, as leaders, need to do. Traci, you know this about me because we get to share it. But every year there is this favorite time of the year that I have. Drum roll. What do you think it is? I know some of you like Christmas, Easter. You like Valentine's day. That's a pretty good one. I like that. I like Stephanie's birthday. That's always fun for us. But for me, for me, my favorite holiday every year is Thanksgiving. In fact, this past Thanksgiving, in 2021, Kimberly, my executive partner, and I, we did something that was very unique. We found somebody on our team every day to send a note of gratitude to. Traci, you were one of them.

Traci Morrow:  I was one of them.

Mark Cole:       Just this text that let people know we're grateful, why we're grateful and what we hope to do together because of gratitude. And so today I just came back. And I appreciate our podcast team so much because it is no coincidence that the first podcast of May is a reminder that, yes, we're six months. We're the Furthest point that we could possibly be from 2021's November and 2022's November. And yet it's still a good month to practice gratitude. And so, whether you're viewing the podcast on YouTube or whether you're listening on your favorite podcast recorder, here is the ultimate standout statement. Here's the theme of what we're trying to do. And that is this, gratitude is a choice. It's a choice on the fourth Thursday of Thanksgiving, or fourth Thursday of November in the US. It's a choice on the first Wednesday of May around the world. Will you be a leader that practices gratitude?

And Traci, wow. This is the perfect co-host because I've watched you, through the years, never take an opportunity to stand along myself or John with anything more than a first thing to do is express gratitude. Now let's get busy. And you do that. And I love that. And I love that for you.

Traci Morrow:  Oh, well thank you, Mark. Because I feel like we're drawn to one another, aren't we? We tend to be drawn. Like brings like to it. And so, what I love about the kickoff of this, and when John was talking about the gentleman who we met with, who said, "I'm practicing your book." And that's really what we all do. John is such a person who's so grateful, so thankful. Even when something goes wrong, John finds something to be thankful or grateful about.

And I've seen the same in you. It's not that you're covering up the bad thing or the wrong thing that's happening, but it's an attitude of finding something to be grateful for in that moment that actually buoys your spirit in that moment, and the people around you. And you are really good about that. And so it's kind of finding a way to laugh at the situation that you're in and turning it around. And wouldn't you say that is really the reason, one of the main reasons, I would say, perhaps the most reason why you went from being a tele-sales marketer in Maxwell Leadership companies, to being in the position that you are as a CEO, as the one who is championing this whole mission of moving what John started so many years ago forward and bringing all of us with you, is because of your attitude of gratitude. You really did practice what was in John's books in bringing us forward. And the root of that is really your attitude. Having an attitude of gratitude.

Mark Cole:       It's funny that you bring this up, because John and I were in Columbia. Columbia, South Carolina, at Columbia University, just a little while ago. And we had the privilege of blowing the dust off of a book. In fact, I'm going to put it in the show notes, Jake, because the book is 360 Degree Leader. In fact, I'm doing something so off script right now. If you will go pick that book up, we're going to give you 15% off of that book. In fact, if you'll go to Maxwellpodcast.com/gratitude, we'll put it in the show notes of how you can get that 15% discount. But John and I blew the dust off of that book because they asked us to teach on 360. How do you influence up? How do you influence at the peer level? How do you influence the people that report to you?

And Traci, as we were getting to co-teach that content the other day, I realized that every group needs to start. If you want to grow influence with any group, those above you, those around you, those that report to you. If you want to gain influence, it needs to start with gratitude. Are you thankful for the people, the role of the people above you? And you know the answer to many leaders that are aspiring leaders is, no. They found out all the fault, all the challenge with those leaders, rather than being grateful for the journey they took to get where they are. And we look at our peers as competitors. Don't we? Oh, if I can just do a little bit better than the other sales manager, or if I can do a little bit better than this other person at the organization, I'll get a quicker promotion, a bigger promotion. And so we see them as competitors rather than teammates.

And then finally, we take for granted those that help us as leaders get where we're supposed to be all the time. I feel like, Traci, to your point, I'm going to come back to it. If we could just infuse more gratitude, we would grow the level or the capacity of our influence to the people in these circular environments of ecosystems around us. So yes, just the other day I got to be with my good friend, David Hoyt. David was the leader that gave me my first chance to be that tele sales representative you were talking about, back in the year, 2000. Man, it feels like a long time ago.

And Traci, my first thing to him to say was the exact same thing I try to say to him every time. It's been a while since I've seen him. "David, thank you for giving me a chance." I say that to John. Just got back from, like I said, Columbia, South Carolina. And I looked at him on the flight back and I just went, "John, thanks for letting me share the stage with you today." And his response was, "Oh, Mark, you deserve it. You should be up there." And I go, "No, don't know that I deserve it. Don't know that I should be. But I sure am grateful that I am." And it's this whole concept. I never want to lose that because I think losing the gratitude begins to lose the ability to see that others are the biggest part of our success.

Traci Morrow:  That's right. And we all know people who don't don't necessarily look for ways to thank somebody else or to show them your gratitude. And then we know those people who, John's so right, those who add to us, draw to them, who make us feel so valued, such a valued member of the team. John could say that to you. You could come off and John could say, "You deserve it, Mark." And you could say, "Thank you, John." And really feel it and take that in. But then the fact that you say, "No, I don't know that I do." That humbling, anchoring you and I were talking to a little bit about. I would love for you to share what we were talking about just before we came on air, because I think it's just so powerful. That anchoring that you talked about. That humility, because I think we all know people who don't, and we're so drawn to the people who have that anchoring humility.

Mark Cole:       Well, it's a lesson, Traci, that John is doing. And I will not teach the lesson on the podcast. It's John's. And trust me, you need to hear it. But I was telling Traci, I said, "Traci." I hadn't seen Traci in a little while. She's got some incredible things to be grateful for that's happening in her family. Her family is growing, with in-laws, outlaws. And she don't look at them as in-laws or outlaws. They're a part of the family.

Traci Morrow:  That's right.

Mark Cole:       Her family is growing and just beautiful, beautiful, very beautiful family that Traci has. And so, anyway, we were talking a little bit about that, because it's been a little time since we've caught up. And I said, "Traci, John has been doing, the last week or so, he's been doing this lesson that is absolutely one of the best lessons I've heard in a long time." And I get to hear John quite often. And the lesson is simply this, podcast viewers, podcast listeners. It's called the success stabilizers. Success stabilizers. Now, isn't it true that you're listening to this podcast today, you're viewing this podcast today because you want some success in your life? That's what we've found. We've found that over 90% of the people that interact with Maxwell Leadership, they come for inspiration and skills resources to become better.

So chances are, nine out of 10 of you are tuning in today because you want to be inspired with something, some nugget, that will help you be a little more effective, a little more successful in your leadership. And so John says, "But then when we become successful, something happens. We don't keep success in a proper perspective as leaders. We begin to let success be a little more inflated in its value, or we let success be a finish line that doesn't propel us with that success into significance. Success is what happens to us. Significance is what happens through us." And so John's doing this incredible teaching called success stabilizers. Now it's his lesson, so I'm going to let him teach it. But I'm going to give you two. And then I'm going to give you the third one that's very apropos, it's very relevant to today's podcast. The first characteristic are one of the things that really comes with success is a bit of an ego, a bit of a bit of a swag, a little bit of a confidence to our step. I mean, Traci, I see-

Traci Morrow:  I really hope that you are going to tune and watch this on YouTube.

Mark Cole:       I gave some moves there.

Traci Morrow:  Because what Mark just did, he kind of ventured into dancing almost. I'm not sure what that was. I'm not sure it was ego, but it was a little bit of a dance. His swag was-

Mark Cole:       Podcast listeners, don't tune in because very quickly you're going to understand, I have a face for radio and I have a voice for the mute button. So do not tune in.

Traci Morrow:  But you've got dance moves that they just got to see.

Mark Cole:       So it's this concept that, with a little bit of success, we get a little bit of an ego. We get a little bit of a confidence that if we're not careful, if it's not stabilized, we will allow that to become a detriment to our success rather than something that extends our success into significance. And so, the stabilizer to ego is humility. We've got to constantly stay in this place of humility. That's why, Traci, thank you for complimenting a while ago when I say John told me just yesterday, "Hey, Mark, such a great job on stage. Thank you. Thank you very much." And I go, "John, and I don't know that I deserve this."

Patrick Lencioni, our friend, says that one of the key attributes of a great leader is humility. Humility, hunger, and a desire with skill sets and strengths. And I want to keep that humility. And John says, that's a stabilizer to ego. He said, "Second thing that comes a lot of times with success is money." So another characteristic of success is we allow monetary things, money, bank account growth and nicer cars or things to indicate success. Well, money has a stabilizer in generosity. Don't show me how much money you have in your bank account. Don't show me your W2 at the end of the year. Show me your giving statement. Because if you can continue to have this feeling of generosity.

And by the way, a lack of money exposes generosity as well. I've met a lot of people that said, "Hey, when I make a million dollars, I can't wait to give $100,000, $200,000 away." And I go, "Well, how much are you giving now?" And when the answer is zero, I say, "No. A million dollars in the bank, a million dollars of income is not going to make you more generous. It is going to make you more selfish." So a stabilizer to money is generosity. But then we go to the one, and I did teach a little bit of John's lesson, still tune in, because he's a lot better. But then we go to this stabilizer for another characteristic of success. And that is pride. There is a true, I believe, healthy pride, something that really can make you and I thankful, appreciative, even respect the effort put into success. A sense of healthy pride. I certainly have that for my daughter, Macy, right now. She's just killing it in some areas that I'd love to have more podcast time to tell you all about. There's a healthy pride, I hope it's healthy, that's there.

But when you get success and you have this sense of pride in your accomplishment, you need a stabilizer. And that's where today's lesson comes in, Traci, because a stabilizer to pride is gratitude, is the sense that I don't stand here alone, I stand on the shoulders of those that's gone before me. I don't stand here because of my accomplishments. I stand here because Jevon and Jake in the studio with me is making this podcast what it is. Just the other day, Traci, I was on a flight coming back to Atlanta. And somebody just kind of greeted me and like, almost this, I know you, how are you doing? We had masks on, as we do still, traveling. And there was just this brightness in his eyes. And I went, I think I'm supposed to know this person.

And anyway, we flew on and didn't say anything. But we get off the plane, I had a problem with my bag. And she came up and she said, "Hi, my name is Sarah and you're Mark Cole. And I know this because I view the podcast." And I went, "Wow." And by the way, Sarah, it was so good to see you on that flight. I wish I had more time to hear your story. But I went, wow. That's because of Jake. Because Jake showed up this morning. Mark, don't get so caught up that there's a visual representation of the podcast. It somehow means that Traci and I are the drivers of the podcast.

I stand here today. I'm actually sitting. But I sit here in the studio today, as you do, Traci, able to communicate, hopefully, value to you on the podcast because an army of women and men. I sit in the seat of CEO in the organization because Linda Eggers, not John Maxwell, Linda Eggers saw and appreciated the value of my leadership and put in a good word to the big man. She's been on John's team for over 30 years. And when Linda speaks, everyone listens. And when Linda told John, you need to check this guy, Mark, out that's been on the team for about three and a half years, John began to see opportunities for me to continue climbing in the area of success. I never want to forget. I want my success today to be stabilized with the gratitude, to Linda Eggers, to Jake, to Jevon. I want to always stay stabilized in any successful things that I experience.

Traci Morrow:  Yeah, I agree. And I think that maybe if you're listening. Sitting here in this chair, not in the same room with Mark, but feeling like we're in the same room. And I always sit in this podcast and I take notes to myself. If you're watching, you see me looking down sometimes, as Mark is talking, because I'm learning right alongside of you. And I learn and I grow when Mark shares his application. And as he did, there were just a couple things that I want to share before we close out this podcast, that really stood out to me, that maybe will stand out to you as well.

So I have been trying to practice what's in John's books, as Mark has, as many of you have listening in and watching on this podcast. But some of you, I'm sure, or maybe this gratitude is something that has been a sticking point for you or an area you want to grow even more in. I know that generosity is something that I really pursue. I want to be known for generosity. And I would assume you probably do too, or gratitude. But two G words. I'm looking down because I wrote generosity. Let me just say, so if you're thinking that you want to pursue humility and generosity more and whether or not that's just starting to put that more into your life or something that you want to really cultivate and have more and more of that in your life, how you activate that more, John really hit on that in the notes. So I hope that you print those notes out.

But I heard something one time that really stuck with me. And I've tried to apply it. And I'm going to share it with you. They said, "Keep a short account of the wrongs others have done to you." And that's on forgiveness, of course. But the flip side of that, what's applicable today, is it said, "Keep a short account of the rights that you've done, the right things you've done for others, the times when you've been generous." Because sometimes when you're generous with others, that you can tend to keep a running tally in the back of your head of maybe what people owe to you. So generosity can have this weird flip side of, if you do something kind for someone you can think, well, they owe me because I've done this for them and I've done that for them. So not only should we keep a short record of the wrongs people have done for us, but we should keep a short record, part of being generous is keeping a short account, a short memory of the right things we've done and the generous things we've done for others.

And then the other things that John highlighted was keeping a gratitude journal. If you're somebody who struggles with maybe a grumpy attitude sometimes, or when we all hit lows in our lives, it's nice to have a gratitude journal that you can go to and open up and look at all the times the things that you are so grateful for when your brain is tempted, when your mind and your emotions are tempted to really focus on the things that you are struggling with. And when you go to those things that you're grateful for and you read through them and you look through them, it just buoys your spirits. It makes you feel better. It makes you remember the real things in your life, not just these temporal things that are just popping up right now. Because we're all going to have hardships, but really keeping a gratitude journal is something that I think we're way less apt to complain. If we really train our brains and put in habits, healthy habits, of gratitude into our life.

And so I'll let you close it out, Mark. But I'm just wanting to help all of us too, the key takeaways for me from this podcast is, are we practicing what John has put into his books? That alone helps us to be more grateful people because he is such a grateful person. Are we putting in what Mark just helped us with? You know, the strategic pieces of humility and generosity, those stabilizers, those anchors, if you will, of leadership, of being a person of gratitude? And then keeping a short list and keeping a gratitude journal so that we can start to really cultivate new, healthy habits of gratitude into our lives.

Mark Cole:       You know, as we do close out today, Traci, I was thinking about how grateful I am to you, and how grateful I am to John in that same sentence. Because John has spent literally his entire life, all 50 plus years of leadership practice. And by the way, the gratitude goes to Margaret, his wife, and his family.

Traci Morrow:  Absolutely.

Mark Cole:       Because he's given of himself so that we can have a clear path to grow, a clear path to increase our influence. Every continuity program, every tape, every book, every speech, everything we've ever designed or developed over the last five decades has been with the intention to help people that want a clear path to grow and a clear path to lead better. And so, I'm thankful to John because he's given us a foundation to do that. And then Traci, I put you in that same sentence because we decided, some time ago, to launch a CLEAR Growth Program that would help people that do want to grow themselves better with a clear plan and that want to grow their increase, or grow their influence and increase their leadership.

And so John and I looked and went, who has been practicing this better than anyone else in particular areas. And Traci, we unanimously just looked at each other and went, "It's Traci Morrow." And the reason I say that, Traci, is because I watch how you do relationships. And you've led huge business, multi-million dollar business that you started. You did that with six kids. You've done that with an incredible, healthy, wonderful love for your family. You've done that with people that love you, that would charge a mountain. And you do that with clear intentionality on building on the foundation that John has given us and still reaching for success as a woman that is passionate about all the relationships in her life, but committed to growing herself and those around her in a clear way.

And you say, Mark, what are you talking about? Well, I'm talking about that I gratefully, with great gratitude, Traci, get to talk about you in helping us extend the influence of John Maxwell through our CLEAR program. It is a program that is designed for you to create a clear growth plan, that is also designed to help you increase your influence. And here's the greatest news of all. Traci is a guide in that CLEAR Program in the relationship focus in the program, which means she's on phone calls. She's accessible and available on how to clearly grow one's self and to grow one's leadership in the clear methodology. And so, if you want more information on that, we've just launched it, like three weeks ago. We just launched it. And it's Maxwellleadership.com/clear. Maxwellleadership.com/clear.

You'll hear more of Traci. I get to be a part of that program as a guide in the leadership lane, we have three other guides. And it is a powerful way to clearly grow yourself and clearly grow those that you influence around you. Hope you'll join us. Hey, by the way, podcast viewers, podcast audio listeners that has determined you do not want to see my dance moves. Thank you for joining us today. Until next month, or next week. We'll see you before next month. Let's listen. Let's learn. Let's lead. And let's do it together.

3 thoughts on “Leading with Gratitude”

  1. Great podcast! We all need to be grateful for the folks who consistently are in our corner supporting us through thick and thin. We cannot do life alone–it is a collaborative journey of thinkers and doers. This podcast also helped me to appreciate those who have supported me, provided me with opportunities, and gave me a foot in the door when no one else did.

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