Eating dinner last weekend in King Hall with 4,400 Midshipmen was so special. When I attended the Naval Academy, I spent four years taking three meals a day in that cavernous room. Now I was back, sitting at a table alongside the superintendent and General McMaster, the head of the NSA. As a Midshipman, I never pictured that I’d return to deliver the opening keynote at the academy’s biggest leadership conference. It felt amazing to come full circle and share my experience with tomorrow’s leaders.
At an event like this—where I’m speaking alongside vice presidents and heads of state—I like to focus on differentiators. Strong leadership starts with fundamentals, but there are subtle things that elite teams and performers do differently. Take, for example, mindset. The best of the best see the world through a different lens. That’s why I encourage audiences to adopt an attitude of gratefulness and positivity I call Glad To Be Here.
Gratitude is especially important for teams, because one person can be like a spark that lights up an entire organization. I saw this happening after my speech last weekend. My escort for the event was so fired up, he asked me for 4,400 #GladToBeHere stickers, one for every Midshipman in the academy. He has made it his personal mission to share this mindset with every individual cadet. His passion is an inspiration to me, and it’s a reminder of how Glad To Be Here takes hold organically. Gratitude is contagious. It starts with one person, and it spreads.
I challenge you to be that spark in your world too. It starts with a simple question: what makes you Glad To Be Here? Find the sources of gratitude in your life, and share them with everyone around you. I’ve even created a simple tool I call the Glad To Be Here Wakeup that will help you begin every single day with this life changing mindset. Be the change that you want to see in the world today.