Just before the Thanksgiving holiday I attended the Women Leading Travel and Hospitality peer group call. This session’s theme was the “Changing Power of Gratitude” - a timely topic in the spirit of the holiday.
The link between gratitude and the modern day Thanksgiving has deep historical roots dating back to harvest festivals, common to many cultures worldwide. Today we celebrate and give thanks for both the tangible and intangible things in our lives from food, shelter and possessions to our family and friends. Over time, the importance of expressing and practicing gratitude has spread to an even wider application with scientifically proven benefits.
The Women Leading Travel and Hospitality peer group meeting was lead by fellow WLTH member Amanda Johnson, Director, Marketing Communications, Digital & Media at Herschend Enterprises. In preparation for the meeting, Amanda asked us to prepare ourselves by thinking about what we are most grateful for in our careers, gratitude habits, how we express gratitude to others and how we plan to bring more gratitude into our lives in 2024.I know I wasn’t alone feeling happy, hopeful, and energized by the time the meeting was over.
In fact, there is a reason that practicing gratitude leads to positive feelings like I just described. Several research studies have linked gratitude practices to decreased depression and anxiety and improved physical health and sleep quality.
As leaders, we constantly face challenges and circumstances that bring stress. Physical and mental health are not only “nice to have” but are critical to optimizing performance to address all the things that come our way. Building gratitude habits and practices are essential tools in every leader’s toolbox.
As a leadership coach I often find unfortunately that leaders do not know how or do not prioritize using these tools. Outdated beliefs, internal and external pressures have designated tools like these as “soft skills” that are not taken seriously. In my work with clients we address these beliefs and create awareness around just how important they are. Clients are set on a path towards better overall well-being and a higher level of leadership performance.
As we come to the end of 2023 I’ve been thinking a lot about what I am grateful for. This year has been a huge transition for me and it has allowed me to focus on the work that I am most passionate about. I feel extremely fortunate to work with travel professionals to elevate their leadership and create more meaningful lives in addition to improving and growing our family owned hotel. I am thankful for my family and the beautiful mountain town I live in.
Do you want to bring more gratitude into your daily practices? Check out the exercise below.
Rachel Vandenberg is a leadership coach living in Stowe, Vermont with her husband and three children. Rachel also owns and operates a hotel and attractions property with her family. She sits on the board of the local tourism association and also created a leadership retreat for women leaders in travel.