The Perils of Being Grateful

  • 2 min read

Sydney 2008, whilst having a day on the road and doing sales calls, I got stuck in the traffic with a colleague for over 40 mins. Chatting was the only way to kill time. In this purposeless, purely out of boredom chit chat, he shared details of his remuneration package with me.  I was certain he had made a mistake with the numbers he shared. So I clarified, only to learn that I heard it right the first time!

We were both directors, doing the same job. He was managing the Sydney clients and I was managing the Melbourne clients. Yet, his remuneration package was way higher than mine. I was not feeling upset, but not happy either. It was one of those, 'Oh OK' moment.

Upon my return to Melbourne, I kept thinking about this difference between our remuneration packages. I asked myself several questions and finally concluded the battle in my brain with the feeling of being grateful, yes grateful, because here is the story I told myself:

  • You are an Asian.
  • You are a woman.
  • You are only in your 20’s, hence less experienced.
  • English is not even your first language.
  • You have only been in Australia for a few years.
  • And wait for this one, Sydney is a better city than Melbourne that is why more important people work there. You are less important!!!!!

My conclusion,

  • Be grateful that you have a job in this foreign land where everyone else is smarter than you.
  • Be grateful that you get to travel for sales calls. (Oh, did I mention that I did sales calls because no one else wanted to but I was grateful for that too !)
  • Be grateful that are the youngest Director in the team.
  • Be grateful you have a large portfolio of clients to manage.
  • Being grateful is one of the most effective ways to create an abundant and joyful state of mind. By simply acknowledging our blessings, we can instantly cure unpleasant feelings of dissatisfaction.

It should come as no surprise then, that research has found links between gratitude and increased optimism, decreased depression, and fewer physical ailments.

But are we women being so grateful that we are loosing sight of our self worth?


I thought this was only my story until I came across an article in The New York Times, Abby Wambach’s Leadership Lessons: Be the Wolf.  In her new book, “Wolfpack,” the retired soccer superstar applies lessons of failure and triumph learned on the field to empower women. Here is the lesson that resonated most with me.

Be grateful and ambitious.

Old Rule: Be grateful for what you have.
New Rule: Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.

“I was so grateful for a paycheck, so grateful to represent my country, so grateful to be the token woman at the table, so grateful to receive any respect at all that I was afraid to use my voice to demand more. Wambach writes, “our gratitude is how power uses the tokenism of a few women to keep the rest of us in line.”

What keeps the pay gap in existence is not just the entitlement and complicity of men. It’s the gratitude of women too.


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Managing Director Narrative: The Business of Stories
I turn corporate professionals in to business storytellers which enables them to drive better business outcomes.
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