What Are You Looking For?

Dr. Matthew Arau • CommentaryNovember 2022 • November 13, 2022

November is here and with that comes the changing colors of the falling leaves, cooler, crisper temperatures, and in the United States, a day to specifically focus on gratitude – Thanksgiving. Student leaders can expand on this one special day and create a month of gratitude. The great thing about focusing on something for a month is it is often enough time to make a new habit – a new way of life and leading. It’s important for leaders to recognize that everyone wants to feel they are valued, that they matter, that they make a difference, and that they are appreciated. Leaders create a successful team by openly sharing gratitude for the individuals in the group for showing up, for working hard, and for making progress. 

Here are five simple steps to integrate gratitude into a musician’s leadership style.

  1. Focus on what you are grateful for when you wake up in the morning. 
  2. Continue to look for people and things to be grateful for as you prepare for your day.
  3. In music class, find opportunities to thank folks for being there and working hard. Let them know you appreciate them.
  4. Devote time in rehearsal or sectionals to share gratitude for one another. Be specific rather than general. 
  5. Create a gratitude wall or bulletin board to post notes of gratitude for each other.

As you make focusing on gratitude and sharing gratitude a daily habit, you will notice that you begin to be more appreciative of the little things and you will be more mindful and observant of the smallest details you may have taken for granted. People enjoy being around sincere and authentic leaders who make them feel appreciated. When you start to proactively look for things to be grateful for, you might struggle at first, but the more you turn gratitude-seeking into a habit you will notice more and more to be grateful for. Why is this? The answer is, “you will always find what you are looking for.”


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