Project Practitioners > Gratitude Is The Answer

Gratitude Is The Answer

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


Last week, I wrote about comparison being the thief of joy. You start to look around and compare your current status with others. You have it good, but it can always be better. There is always something bigger, faster, stronger, newer, and so on. The comparisons are robbing you of experiencing what you currently have.

The way to combat that joy thievery is to be grateful. Rather than comparing yourself to others, you can compare yourself to you of yesterday. You can look around and be grateful for the people on your team, in your organization, and surrounding your life. Without them, none of this would be possible.

Instead of cursing the morning sun, you are thankful for another healthy day. My pessimistic optimism makes this difficult for me to put into practice, but even the thought of improvement can eventually lead to it. Project managers tend to think of the worst to have a contingency plan in place. Optimism almost hurts a project more than helps.

‘Do not worry’ causes extreme worry. Not only must there be a plan A but also plans B, C, and F. Every turn must have a response or direction. A rudderless project spins in circles with no end in sight. You must provide the rudder, which leads to comparison. Comparison leads to things that can always be better when, in reality, you have it pretty good.

Being grateful and expressing gratitude can help overcome this need or want to compare yourself to others.


Write It Down

Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. The list is likely longer than you imagine. Put anything down from smallest to largest. The morning sun, the warm bed, the vehicle you drive, the clothes you wear, and so on are all things to be grateful for that we take for granted.

Your team, organization, desk, air conditioned office, and so on are all fantastic assumptions a project manager has. In construction, the project manager pulls up in the newer pickup truck with the AC blasting wearing the cleanest hard hat one can purchase. Crew members look on with envy when the temperature reads 90 degrees or higher. One can take it for granted. A crew member would do anything to trade places for a few minutes to cool down.

Realize without those individuals, the project is doomed. Be grateful for having a foreman that takes charge and gets work completed. Be grateful for a team member that takes copious notes for you to review later when you forget.

Whenever you find yourself comparing you to others, bust out this list. Even if it is mentally accounted for, read it aloud to yourself. Take account of all the things you do have rather than the things you want.


Thank Yourself

The fact that you are reading this means you are fortunate. You can read. You strive for greater. You have made it through all obstacles thus far. You are that person. Anyone who does anything above and beyond is not necessarily the most talented or gifted.

They have an internal drive that no one can match. They control the things in their control like working hard, putting in the time, studying the game, and practicing this knowledge. You have that ability, and it is playing itself out. You are where you are because of you. This does not mean no one else has helped you along the way, but you are the writer of your story.

Give yourself some credit. Not everyone starts on the same starting blocks. Some have a head start. Instead of chastising them for that, realize your journey is just different. You will have more of a story to share. You will be more interesting talking about the struggle than someone who finds everything easy. You will appreciate and be grateful for where you are.

Take a look in a mirror and say ‘thank you’ to the person staring back at you.


Give to Others

Pass it on. Take your position of knowledge and share it with others. Nothing is better than seeing that light bulb go off for someone else. In jiu jitsu class, we were learning a technique that was basically an exaggeration of a fundamental movement. When I explained this to my partner, his eyes lit up and the world made sense again.

This small piece of knowledge changed his view of the new technique. All of a sudden, this brand new concept became an old habit again. Project management can be similar. There is always the newest and best thing available. Download this. Purchase that. Make your team more x, y, and z. The latest and greatest is typically a variation of something that already exists.

Share what you know works. Relationships are important to running a successful team and project. If they trust your information because you share only the goods, you become a go-to individual. You do not lead people astray. Therefore, they can count on you. By giving, you are receiving. It is a beautiful thing.



A way to stop comparing yourself to others is to be grateful. While this proves difficult, even the slightest adjustment makes a big difference down the road. You start to compound happiness when tallying up the things you are grateful for.

Write these items down so you have a reminder. The spiral of comparison can be difficult to stop. Use the list as a means of halting the spiral and getting back on track.

Thank yourself. Without you, none of this would be possible. While others have helped you along the way, you are the one putting in the work and improving. If you must compare, compare the person you are today to the one 3-, 5-, or 10-years ago.

Give back. It is a great way to share ideas, and all parties gain. Idea exchanging is not a zero-sum game. Everyone accumulates knowledge. Put that knowledge to use. Gratitude squashes comparison. There is no need when you are grateful for what you have.

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

The comments to this entry are closed.

©Copyright 2000-2017 Emprend, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
About us   Site Map   View current sponsorship opportunities (PDF)
Contact us for more information or e-mail
Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Stay Connected
Get our latest content delivered to your inbox, every other week. New case studies, articles, templates, online courses, and more. Check out our Newsletter Archive for past issues. Sign Up Now

Follow Us!
Linked In Facebook Twitter RSS Feeds

Got a Question?
Drop us an email or call us toll free:
7am-5pm Pacific
Monday - Friday
We'd love to talk to you.

Learn more about ProjectConnections and who writes our content. Want to learn more? Compare our membership levels.