choosing gratitude

There are several titles that appear on James Autry’s resume; however none of those titles can describe how prolific, motivating and inspiring James Autry is. His words are life changing and he’s able to share his wisdom with his audience like he’s a long lost friend.

In 1991 Autry retired from his career as president at Magazine Group, so that he could pursue a life as an author and consultant. Autry has been active in many civic and charitable organizations and is the founder of the Des Moines National Poetry Festival. The successful author has written 11 books that are centered on leadership. In Choosing Gratitude, Autry shares his candid life story and how gratitude is in his daily life.

Why did you write Choosing Gratitude?

I felt (and feel) that we are becoming a country of angry, frustrated and aggressive complainers. We are losing our civility and our sense of the greater community. We are losing the fundamental value of respecting the viewpoint of the other person. Concomitant with that, it seems, we are falling into a psychology of scarcity in which we feel there's not enough and we'd better get ours, versus a psychology of abundance in which there is enough for all. I have a sign on my office wall: "What you have is enough." With all our problems, and there are plenty, we are still blessed people with much to be grateful for. My goal for "Choosing Gratitude" is to tell parts of my own story in a way that people will think about their own stories and identify their own reasons for living in gratitude.

What sets Choosing Gratitude apart from your other books?

My books fall in three categories. The first two books were poetry about growing up in the South. The next books were essays and poetry that addressed issues of management and leadership, culminating in my book, The Servant Leader. Then came books that address subjects of self-help and personal growth (The Spirit of Retirement, The Book of Hard Choices, Looking Around for God). It is in this latter category that I also place Choosing Gratitude.

In your own words, describe what gratitude means to you? Why?

To me, gratitude is a way of being. I want it to permeate my life with an appreciative way of living that then opens me up to people and, in turn, makes me more generous and loving and compassionate. I think that if I inculcate gratitude into my very being, then I will be a better person, will live life more fully, and will be of more service to others.

What do you want your audience to take away after reading your latest book?

I would love for my audience, as a result of reading Choosing Gratitude, to examine their own lives with an attitude of gratitude, identifying the people and things for which they are grateful, even things that may not be positive in their lives. I hope to help them develop an appreciation for all the lessons of life, not just the happy ones.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? Why is your job more satisfying than being the president at Magazine Group?

To begin, my present "job," of author, consultant, and speaker, is not more satisfying on one level than my former job of President of The Magazine Group of the Meredith Corporation (Better Homes and Gardens, many others). In that job, the well-being of many people (900 to be exact) was to one extent or another in my care during most of their waking hours. I wrote once that management was a sacred calling, and that's how I felt about it. But my present "job" is very different. I work independently and can focus on writing and on projects and interests that I define rather than those defined by a company's goals and interests. Put another way, I can choose to do the things that I find worth doing. And that is a lot less stressful.

How do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as a leader who always worked to help people be the best they could be; as a loving father and husband who worked hard to make up for his mistakes and missteps over the years; as a faithful and reliable friend; as a worker for the rights of people with disabilities; as an effective volunteer and spokesperson for the civil rights of all people; and finally as an author and poet whose work had a positive influence on its readers.

You can purchase Choosing Gratitude.

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