The power of gratitude

One of the things that I love about the work that I do is the wonderful people that I meet and work with. Over the last couple of weeks I have met three people who displayed gratitude and overcame difficult circumstances.

Earlier this month I was in Canada and met Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons, a Canadian Football League legend.  He was brought up by his mother in a poor area of Florida after his father deserted them.  His mother instilled in him a desire to learn and thrive.  He graduated with an economics degree and went on to become a record breaking NFL football player despite his diminutive stature – he is only 5′ 6″.

He founded the  “Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons Foundation” which is dedicated to helping disadvantaged youth.  He says, “My greatest challenge is me.  I am the controller of my success.”  He is grateful for all the sacrifices his mother made to help him succeed.  In particular he is grateful for the time when she gave up her new car to him so that he could get to college.

Last weekend I met Judy Van Niekerk.  She was born in Ireland and for 20 years was imprisoned and abused by her father.  She finally escaped and went to live in South Africa where she became a successfuPat with Judy Van Niekerkl business woman.  Amazingly she says that she forgave her father before he died and she is grateful for everything that happened to her.  She grew up with a strong sense of self-love.

Judy is now passionate about social entrepreneurship and helping businesses to make a positive return to society.

I was also priviledged to meet Ashwin Willemse, a former rugby player for the Springboks.  He was brought up in a shack in a poor area of Cape Town by his single mother and his grandparents.  By his mid-teens he was involved in drug dealing and became a drug addict.  He is grateful to his aunt who warned him that he needed to change his life or he would die.  When he promised her that he would change she bought him his first pair of rugby boots.  

Pat with Ashwin Willemse
Pat with Ashwin Willemse

Ashwin went on to become a star player for the Sprinboks.  He is now a successful businessman and motivational speaker.  He says, “Acknowledge the people who help you in life…..Surround yourself with those who see GREATNESS within you even when you don’t see it for yourself.”

September 21st was National Gratitude Day but it is not enough to be grateful one day a year.  Keeping a ‘gratitude journal’ every day focuses your mind on all of the positive things around you every day.  If you are experiencing anxiety or low mood it can help you to move forward.

So what three gifts have you received today?  Write them down, share them with a partner or friend and experience the lift in your spirits.  Have a great day.