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The Best Valentine’s Day and Everyday Gifts You Can Give!

Judith W. Umlas is Sr. Vice President and Trainer at International Institute for Learning (IIL) and author of these great books. Judith’s passion, mission and purpose are to make a difference at work, in families and communities using these powerful tools.

The best gifts you can give your co-workers, spouse, parents, kids or the coffee barista who gives great service are your acknowledgment and gratitude! Watch their faces light up, see them be moved to tears by your simple expression of praise and appreciation and even witness them perform better and stay longer in their jobs. These “gifts” are simple, cheap and constantly available to you to give to those who deserve them. Yet most of us don’t do this! So we need reminders.

Kids don’t have the social barriers to acknowledging people that adults do. Starting a tradition of gratefulness and appreciation early makes kids happier, which very naturally makes them go from great kids to grateful leaders when they reach the workplace! Once you share this very real “super power” with them, they start practicing it immediately.

Here’s how you can make gratitude and acknowledgment a part of your Valentine’s Day and the rest of your life:

  1. Discuss the 5 C’s of Acknowledgment with your families, teachers, co-workers, teams, classes and scout troops.
  2. Deliver acknowledgments in a heartfelt and sincere way every time you see the opportunity – no excuses!
  3. Keep a gratitude journal – write what you’re grateful for every day. Some studies show that people who do this are happier and more peaceful.

BONUS: Tell us how your family plans to practice gratitude and acknowledgment this Valentine’s Day and throughout the year. Five random commenters will win a copy of my book, You’re Totally Awesome! The Power of Acknowledgment for Kids.

PLUS, readers of this blog post are welcome to a 20% discount on all 3 books from Judy by using the code Grateful2014 on the Grateful Leadership website

Judith recently interviewed Whole Foods Market's CEO Walter Robb and Nona Evans the President and Executive Director of Whole Kids Foundation® on how they practice grateful leadership.Take a look.

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Laurie Smith says …

I am a teacher and use journals in my fifth grade classroom. I plan to have my students write about things they are grateful for more often. We do it for Thanksgiving but that's about it. I can see how it would be a good habit for them to do weekly or even more often.

Joyce Gholson says …

As I posted as a Facebook comment, we live in a climate of high-stakes testing which sometimes leads us to lose sight of each individual's talents and value. This article and book would inspire all of us to affirm one another in the midst of the storm each day. I am a fifth grade teacher in Texas.

Chris Young says …

Judith's interview with Whole Foods' Walter Robb during IIL's international project management day highlighted how gratitude should be part of our work processes, regardless of how stoic or formulaic the processes seem to be. Walking the floor, communicating, and telegraphing values beyond the bottom line help build cultures at work and in the community.

Christopher says …

Great post!! Very applicable in this day/age of technology and fast-paced culture that can take away from personable interactions. We will continue to teach our kids to be purposeful in developing relationships with the people wherever we go (grocery store, restaurants, etc) by engaging in eye-eye contact, conversation (acknowledgement!), and giving genuine compliments. Keep up the great work!