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The Five Freedoms of Gratitude

“Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.” Immanuel Kant

Ingratitude is weak, small, ugly, arrogant, and contagious. Unthankful leaders repel healthy followers.

Companions of ingratitude:

  1. Fear.
  2. Entitlement.
  3. Envy.
  4. Blame.
  5. Anger.


Gratitude is freedom.

Ingratitude is bondage to offenses, disappointments, and dissatisfaction.

5 Freedoms:

  1. Inclusion. Grateful leaders include others. Ungrateful leaders say, “I’ll do it myself.”
  2. Effort. Gratitude is the context of excellence.
  3. Joy.
  4. Failure. People in thankful cultures dare to try and fail. Those who can’t fail never give their best.
  5. Resilience. Ingratitude drains. Gratitude energizes.

Tip: Be thankful for opportunities to make things better even when things are going poorly.


You explain what matters when you say thank you. Every expression of gratitude informs how you value people, behaviors, or results.

Gratitude is hard work until you realize the value of those around you.


The secret to being tough and tender is gratitude.

Tough leaders are jerks apart from gratitude. A thankful spirit makes you inviting to others even as you pursue excellence with tenacity. Gratitude is the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.


  1. “I’m thankful for ….” Be thankful for something. Never just say thank you.
  2. Honor effort even when results disappoint.
  3. Explain meaning and impact after saying thank you. Tell them what it means to you or the company.
  4. Don’t add ‘buts’. Let gratitude stand on its own.

How can leaders overcome reluctance to express gratitude?

What suggestions do you have for leaders who are striving to get better at expressing gratitude?

Note: This post was originally posted 11/28/2013

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