I remember a statistic from business school that said that a customer will tell ten people about a negative experience with your company, but will only tell two people about a positive experience with your company. This statistic suggests that people seem to complain more readily than they give praise.
The preference of complaint over praise is evident in every aspect of our culture. Seinfeld, a show about absurdism and nihilism, is among the most popular TV shows of all time. This is a direct reflection of our culture. We seem to love to complain. Yet praise is not as popular. Could you imagine a sitcom about gratitude being as successful as Seinfeld?
Spiritual seekers learn early on that humility and gratitude are essential components to leading a happy, healthy and vibrant life. Awakened business owners understand that gratitude can become one of the essential tenets of business strategy.
Gratitude offers any business an opportunity to develop significant growth over its competition. If a company is full of gratitude, this will naturally spread to its supply chain and consumers. Gratitude is contagious and physicists have proven that like attracts like. So if a company adopts and imbibes gratitude, then the organizations and people it does business with will naturally have similar values. For instance, Whole Foods suppliers tend to be organic, conscious, caring and holistic minded. Whole Foods customers tend therefore to be of the same ilk. They read labels and care about their environment and their health within the whole. If a company were truly grateful, it would find its suppliers and customers also value gratitude.
Gratitude needs to start from the top. It is the CEO’s responsibility to see gratitude as being as important as Porter’s five forces of competitive strategy. When both the CEO and employee practice humility and gratitude, it helps them to release ego tendencies that perpetuate stagnation and suffering. As they become more vital and dynamic through practicing gratitude, this energy can spread to all members of the organization. Profitability increases as absenteeism reduces, products are stronger and customer needs are better understood.
Businesses can even practice gratitude for missteps. Mistakes are a natural part of being human. Learning from our mistakes is part of what makes a person strong and a company even stronger. The best companies on the planet have made mistakes and have grown from it. Apple came out with the Newton; IBM said Google would not last. Yet both of these companies are great. They are great because they know that innovation can’t be sustained without gratitude for the process of discovery.
If we can see mistakes as valuable, then we can feel gratitude for them. A CEO could be grateful to an employee for a mistake, as the employee could be grateful for having the mistake brought to their attention. Both could sit down and learn from the mistake and find areas that help them communicate better, fix errors in a system or even develop a new product that turns into, for example, the next Post-it Note. The Post-it Note was born from a mistake in R&D at 3M that turned into a very profitable product.
In a world of entitled consumerism, gratitude is overlooked and undervalued. Entitled consumerism can be toxic and that toxicity can also occur in the workplace. The remedy, in my opinion, is gratitude: essential to what makes us human. This humanity is the essence of business. Awakened business is serving. So let’s serve with gratitude.
Originally posted at Parvati Magazine.