Fostering Gratitude and Happiness as a Leader

In the spirit of giving I would like to share one of my favorite professional development modules. Whether you are in a school setting or a corporate setting I am confident that you will find this fun and engaging for your team. Not only does it help individuals understand that happiness is something that others can not provide (we choose our attitudes and therefore give up our power when we let the actions of others 'make us unhappy'), but you learn as a team that there are research based practices that help to shift ones mindset.

Here are your directions and resources;

1. Bring your team together and open with Shawn Achor's video. This is about 12 minutes long and is a laugh out loud Ted Talk with a very positive and inspiring message. Of course you will want to watch this video first and put the actions he outlines at the end on a powerpoint slide or somewhere in writing so you can reference them as you lead the follow up discussion with your team.

2. Print this handout/guide for each of your team members; 

After viewing the Ted Talk and discussing the research behind happiness share the handout and invite your team to join in the challenge. As you will see, I have prepared a 21-day calendar that can begin on any day. This calendar has a place to check off all of the elements the research indicates drives happiness and what it takes to shift your thinking. Writing down 3 things you are grateful for, exercise (just a quick walk will suffice), Meditation/Quiet time, Random Act of Kindness, and journaling. I have provided enough pages for 21 days of journaling all in this single document that you can print. Doesn't get easier than that!

I did this activity with my school leadership team and invited each of the team leaders to then take it back to their teams and present it in the same way. My goal is for our teachers to see their team leaders as that, leaders. I also want to empower the team leaders by providing them with opportunities to challenge and coach their teams outside of the typical instructional capacity and keeping up with deadlines. I don't want them to feel like they are policing their colleagues. We want our leaders to build up others and coach them in positive professional ways.

This activity has been a big hit at our school and many families have taken it on in addition to our middle grades team modifying it for their students.

Give it a try, you'll be happy that you did!