Giving thanks not just for Thanksgiving Published Dec. 2, 2008 By Lt. Col. Tracy Jackson 85th Engineering Installation Squadron KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- We were all reminded on Thanksgiving to give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. We don't have to wait until next Thanksgiving to remember all the blessings in our lives. I find myself telling others that they can find many things to be thankful for, even if they face challenges. However, I know I should also express gratitude to others throughout the year. I'm truly thankful for the outstanding Airmen I work and serve with each day. I'm thankful for their dedication and sacrifice. I'm also thankful for family and friends. However, I must admit, I don't say thank you as often as I should. I was listening to a radio program last week as I drove home. Author and pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah stated that being thankful does not come naturally. We have to discipline ourselves to be thankful. I realize I sometimes must make a concerted effort to be thankful and to say a simple heartfelt thank you to others. I believe effective leaders are those who are thankful. Well how does a thankful leader impact those he or she leads? Simple, heartfelt expressions of thanks can motivate individuals to continue to work hard and strive for excellence. Also, being able to express gratitude for the many blessings in one's life can have a positive impact on others. Positive people are contagious. Often when we give a smile, we will get a smile in return. People want to emulate the positive aspects of leaders. They will be reminded to express gratitude as well. Executive coach, Leila Bulling Towne, states that managers fail to say thank you to their personnel correctly and often enough. She offers four keys to expressing gratitude: make it personal, be specific, don't rush it and consider writing it down in a note or e-mail. A thank you must be genuine. The results of effectively expressing gratitude often, according to Towne, are increased loyalty, dedication and productivity. I believe the key to positive impact is that the expression of thanks is from the heart. It must be sincere. Yes, it shouldn't be rushed, but it can be a simple, heartfelt thank you. Expressions of gratitude don't have be elaborate or require lots of planning or resources. Leaders can extend their appreciation for hard work and outstanding performance beyond quarterly and annual awards and certificates of appreciation by simply expressing heartfelt thanks more often. Awards and recognition programs are extremely important, but verbal thanks are just as important. Plus, you can't give awards to every deserving individual. However, you can say thank you. So don't forget to say a heartfelt thank you to others, and say it often. Reflect daily on the many blessings you enjoy -- don't wait until next Thanksgiving to do it.