Wednesday, November 23, 2020

Patricia Ryan Madson on Gratitude

Today it's our pleasure and honor to welcome Patricia Ryan Madson as Slow Leadership's first Guest Author.


I love this cartoon. It says it all. Linking gratitude to awareness is an excellent strategy. When we look at the world with “right perspective” (noticing the gifts inherent in everything) gratitude is a natural and inevitable response. What keeps us from seeing life this way? I think it is a desire to preserve our sense of ourselves as “good people.” If I notice all that others are doing for me, all the ways that my fellows, colleagues, family, even my government (that I often criticize) is taking care of my needs, supporting me moment by moment, then I may experience guilt or a sense of indebtedness. Most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as “in debt.” But the truth of life is that we are. We are in debt, all of us.

When I stop for a moment and ask and answer the question: “Who or what is supporting me at this moment?” I begin to get a glimmer. Make a detailed list. Be sure to include things that you may normally take for granted (i. e. electricity, running water, fresh vegetables and meats easily available, paved roads, the Internet) as well as that which easily comes to mind. Imagine what life would be like if any one of these was absent.
Looking at life with a grateful eye is a habit, and can be cultivated. It is my favorite topic. And, since Thanksgiving is just around the corner it is a good time to reflect. Gratitude is more than a ‘warm feeling;’ I see it as the correct response to life. It shows that you are paying attention, moment by moment. Successful leaders know this. Great leaders model it.

Patricia Ryan Madson
Author, Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up, Bell Tower, 2005
November 15, 2020
El Granada, CA
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