Ok my coach and teacher friends, you know that your role is about more than just imparting knowledge or skills. You are also responsible for helping your students and athletes develop into their best selves, both on and off the field, studio and gym, or in the classroom. One of the most important qualities you can cultivate in them is GRATITUDE.
Gratitude has taken on a bit of a “buzzword” status and what I hate about that is that we start using the word so much, we forget the meaning and purpose behind it. Gratitude is about more than just saying thank you or feeling appreciative of the good things in life. It's about acknowledging the contributions of others, recognizing the interconnectedness of our lives, and understanding that we all have something to be grateful for, even in difficult times.
As a coach or teacher, it’s our job to, like with so many things, model grateful behavior and not just give them lip service. As coaches and teachers, we need to have gratitude, and here is why it is so important:
Gratitude helps build resilience. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we shift our attention away from what's not working and towards what is. This helps us cultivate a more positive outlook and a greater sense of resilience in the face of challenges. When we teach our students and athletes to practice gratitude, we are helping them build the foundation to use the tools they need to overcome obstacles and thrive in difficult situations.
Gratitude promotes connection. When we express gratitude towards others, we deepen our relationships with them. We show them that we see and appreciate them, and that we value the role they play in our lives. As a coach or teacher, fostering connections between your students and athletes is key to building a positive and supportive environment. By encouraging them to express gratitude towards one another, you're helping to create a culture of appreciation and kindness.
Gratitude fosters growth. When we practice gratitude, we focus on what's going well and what we're learning from our experiences, rather than what's going wrong. This helps us learn to see setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. When we teach our students and athletes to approach challenges with gratitude for the challenge instead of dread, we're setting them up for success in your spaces and in their own.
Gratitude promotes empathy and compassion. When we're grateful for the contributions of others, we're more likely to see things from their perspective and to be empathetic and compassionate towards them. This helps us build deeper connections with others and contributes to a more positive and supportive community. This helps them see themselves as a part of something bigger, a team in some instances, but also as a part of the world they live in instead of a stand alone human. As a coach or teacher, encouraging empathy and compassion in your students and athletes is key to fostering a culture of kindness and respect.
So, how can you cultivate gratitude in your space?
As leaders in our spaces and teams, let's remember to also show our kiddos that we are grateful for them.
“‘I’m grateful for how hard you worked today”
“I’m grateful that you took on the challenge of something new and difficult today”
“I’m grateful for how you cheered each other on”
One little phrase can go a long way to helping them foster their own gratitude.