Before starting a new year, one must close out the old. With all the pressures and hard knocks of being a leader, it is especially helpful to remind yourself of the very good, useful, and rewarding reasons for being a leader.

Here’s wishing you take a little time to reflect, with gratitude, on all that your leadership provides.  Being a leader is an experience like no other, and it is important to be grateful for the journey itself.

These are a few reasons to be grateful to be a leader.

Leading the Shared Purpose

With the daily hurly-burly and the constant stress of delivering results, pause to be grateful for the fact that you are the one responsible for holding everything together.  Thanks to your broad shoulders, emotional intelligence, and strength of will, you are in a position to accomplish a special shared purpose.  You have a large hand in identifying, defining, influencing, and evolving the reason that the group has come together.

Entrepreneurs in particular may take a moment to appreciate how special it is to paint on an empty canvas.  You are creating something from nothing, as well as establishing a shared history for all those involved in the effort.  At each phase of growth, you give new life to the shared purpose and have a chance to forge incredibly tight bonds with the growing team.  

At every phase, the shared purpose is the thing to lead.  And it is up to you.  What a wonderful leadership gift.

Your Resilience

A leader must develop tremendous resiliency, and the best time to take stock of these resources is before you need them. Spend time at the end of the year itemizing how, and with what, you maintain your equilibrium.  

Many internal and external factors contribute to resilience. Be sure to reflect on the life experiences that have brought you to your current place: family and friends who have helped shape you; the current people, places, and activities that remind you of who you are and what you stand for; and how you know when you are being true to yourself - and when you are cutting a corner.  

Spend quiet time thanking your body for all it puts up with.  Even when we have healthy habits of diet, exercise, and rest, the body must still absorb and process the stresses of leadership. When we are not healthy, the bodily toll is tremendous. Be grateful that your body allows you to face each day.  

Opportunities to Inspire

Think about an influential leader in your life. How did this person make you feel?  When he or she approached you with a helpful comment, or useful observation, or simply acknowledged a good effort or a challenging problem, how did that affect the next action you took?  Odds are that this exchange provided you with fresh oxygen, energy, and attention.

Leaders should be grateful for every opportunity they have to make a situation just a little bit better than they found it.  

Don’t be afraid to ask people, “What truly motivates you?” Then work to inspire that specific motivation -- that extra impulse -- that could generate surprising results.

As a leader, you have the responsibility to inspire, the power to do it, and the opportunity to do it, every day.  Gratefully choose to inspire others.

2014 is a New Year

With apologies to Scarlet O’Hara, tomorrow is another year.  If you are disappointed with your leadership at the end of 2013, commit to changes in 2014. Start on January 1.

There are always opportunities to make adjustments and improvements to your leadership. To grow as a leader you must engage in continual trial-and-error.  Be grateful for this engagement, for it confirms that you are present in the process.  

In whatever way you recognize the end of the year, take time to rest and reflect.  

And please let me know what you are grateful for about your leadership.