Empower People by Giving Thanks … Every Day!

When asked to write a composition entitled, “What I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving,” one little boy summed it up quickly. He wrote, “I am thankful that I’m not a turkey.”

 If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Okay, I’ll stop! But the silly riddles often bring smiles to our faces, which create an inner joy so important for living life from an attitude of Thanks. And most especially in the workplace, an attitude of Thanks can go a long way toward building an environment conducive to engagement, empowerment, and productivity!

ThanksgivingPicWith the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, it seems a perfect time to share a great technique you can use to “Power Up” your level of THANKS in the workplace. There are two key words that make up the name of this upcoming holiday: Thanks and Giving. Thanksgiving has absolutely nothing to do with the food on our table, the people gathered ’round us, or which football team is winning (or even whether it’s appropriate to eat Thanksgiving dinner in front of the TV!). It has nothing to do with which Thursday the day is celebrated.  It is all about a state of Consciousness, not a special day!

In this blog article, I want to “talk turkey” by giving you a Thanksgiving Turkey Talkometer! It’s divided into four segments, and  identifies four actual levels of Giving Consciousness that can occur in the workplace. As I quickly explain, see which levels you see — and even more importantly, which ones you are exhibiting as you work with your employees.


Level 1: Grudge Giving
Grudge giving comes from a consciousness that says, “I hate to give! This person doesn’t even deserve it!” When you do a heart check, you identify a feeling of resentment. You give, but there’s no way you want to, and you are hating every minute of it. This is actually not really giving at all; it is more of a holding onto. Examples: It’s the person who was passed over for a promotion, then does just exactly what they need to do to get by, but won’t do one eensy bit more. It’s the manager who holds a grudge when one of his employees went over his/her head to complain to the CEO.

The Rx to move you out of the GRUDGE GIVING? If you are the one practicing Grudge Giving,  practice release — big time! Let stuff go. Release it! Give it up! Grudge giving only hurts you. If you see it in your workplace, make time to sit with the individual, one-on-one, and talk about the situation. Encourage the opportunity to let it go, and focus on what’s next. Sometimes a ritual of some sort is very powerful for a team that has experienced a difficult time. We have done a team building session where the team creates a “Keepers/Releasers” list, identifying what is good about how they operate (which they want to keep at all costs); they then identify the list of attitudes or behaviors which has held them back. These are things to release. We then create an experience where we actually burn the list, using flash paper that eliminates it “in a flash” with no remaining residue! It becomes a powerful metaphor for the team’s growth.


Duty giving comes from a Consciousness that says, “I ought to give.” When you do a heart check, you identify a feeling of guilt … or a martyr complex. You’re giving all right, but only because you feel like you have to. There are tons of examples, particularly at holiday time: gifts you purchase and give—because you have to; traveling you do — because you feel it is expected; office parties you attend — because it is the smart or appropriate thing to do; spending time in your employees’ work area because it’s required. Duty giving robs us of any potential joy that could show up in the situation, because we’re too busy feeling like a martyr!

The Rx for Duty Giving is to practice the Indiana Jones Principle! When faced with something you are dreading, approach it like an adventure! Imagine you are setting out on a new adventure, and focus on looking for something you are grateful for in the situation! Doing this on a regular basis will soon boost your Consciousness to the next level.


Thanks giving comes from a Consciousness that says, “I enjoy giving.” When you do a heart check, you identify a feeling of generosity and love. You’re definitely moving up on the Thanksgiving Turkey Talk-ometer rating! But what you’ll notice is that, at this level, your focus tends to be on giving from the awareness of what you possess. When you feel abundant, you give abundantly; when you feel a sense of lack, you back off on your giving spirit. And we see-saw back and forth. The problem for a leader operating at this level is the inconsistency of it. Your employees are never sure if you are going to be positive or negative, generous or withholding, serious or joyful.

Thanks.1This level is obviously several steps above the others, because there is a focus of giving thanks. To jump up to the next level, try this Rx: Several times during the day, stop and assess your attitude. Ask yourself, “How am I letting people know I am grateful for their performance? How am I bringing a sense of joy and a feeling of safety to our work environment? Where am I right now in my own attitude of Thanks Giving?”

Level 4: Thanks Living!

Thanks Living comes from a Consciousness that says, “I LIVE to give.” When you do a heart check, you identify a feeling of oneness with everyone, a recognition of pure thankfulness, dependent on nothing external, and a sense of abundance, a KNOWING that together we can create amazing results as a team. Therefore, you can live in a perpetual state of Thanks and Giving. … a perpetual state of joy! You live to give, because you know the more  you give, the more joy you experience! That is a spirit of Thanks Living — and that is the essence of an engaging workplace!

A Great Example: Several years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all “differently abled”, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back … every one of them. One girl bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down it connects with the true essence of Thanks Living!

Let me leave you with some excerpts from Kahlil Gibran, on the spirit of giving:

You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard, for fear you may need them tomorrow? And what is fear of need but need itself?

There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desires make their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. … It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; …

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. …

You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

This then is the Consciousness of Thanks Living, which extends beyond a date on the calendar. It is more importantly a reflection on what’s going on inside you … and it is directly proportionate to your focus. As we move into this Thanksgiving week, we invite you to check  your focus, and measure yourself on the Thanksgiving Turkey Talk-ometer. If you find you are beneath the Thanks Living level, in that moment stop and shift your focus:

  • TakeActionFocus on Others, not yourself;
  • Focus on Joy, not outer circumstances; and
  • Focus on Abundance, not the appearance of lack.

And you will find yourself leading from the “Extraordinary You” and inspiring each and every one of your employees to be extraordinary, too! Happy Thanks Living!!

About Cher & Bil Holton

Since 1984, Cher & Bil Holton have been co-owners of The Holton Consulting Group, Inc., helping corporate and association clients enhance bottom-line results using cutting edge employee engagement. Their keynote speeches, turbo-training, and coaching sessions are practical, grounded in research, and lots of fun to boot! They are prolific authors, and take "Indiana Jones" vacations to continually stretch their limits!
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