The gratitude/entitlement shift

You did it. You got the job, or the promotion, won the election, got the raise. You worked hard, you put in the hours, the blood, the sweat, the tears. And now you’re there. Where you’ve been wanting to be.

When does the shift from being so grateful that we were able to achieve our dreams devolve into our belief that we somehow deserve to have achieved them? When does our gratitude – the awe, the appreciation that you made it, turn into entitlement?

Great leadership rests in continuing to cultivate gratitude that you are where you are. And this doesn’t only apply to the people at the top. Every time we get to the next rung of the ladder, we react with a certain sense of disbelief that we did it, but fast forward a few months or years, not only do we take for granted we are there, we also don’t understand how we are not on the next rung already. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be ambitious or have lofty goals or even be satisfied, but rather to remind yourself that there was a time when where you are now is the place you were dreaming to be.

How do you sustain this outlook as novelty and excitement wear off and forward-looking begins? Part of it is recognizing that your success does not exist in a vacuum, but was built on the legacy of those who came before you, those who taught you, those who believed in you, and the fact that the world is the way that it is at this moment in time. And then acting on that recognition by lifting up the people around you and making sure you are contributing to a world in which others can be lifted up too.

It is also remembering your “why?”. So rarely are we challenged with truly answering the question of “why?”. Why do you do what you do? Why do you believe what you believe? Why do you care about this issue? Why did you end up here? The “why” reminds us of our raison d’être. The why is not position specific, it is the greater cause or calling that reminds us of what outside ourselves moved us to act. Your why is the path on the journey. When you challenge yourself to articulate your “why,” every step along the way is significant in and of itself.

But it is so easy to get swept up in the day to day that reminding ourselves not to take it all for granted, and then want more, can be easy to forget to do. So find daily cues around you that will help you be intentional in humbly practicing the art of everyday gratitude.

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