Most of us have pretty 24/7 work and family lifestyles. Business and busy-ness engulfs our lives. If you believe the employee engagement survey results, 71% of us are disengaged. Recently I was having one of those disengaged “blah” days. It was a combination of anxiety over a speaking engagement I had later that day (yes, after doing tons of these I still get anxiety) and just a general dark cloud I couldn’t shake.
“Who wants to be in a room with Ms. Sulky?” my inner critic said, as I tried all kinds of techniques to get my mojo back – without much success. Getting to the speaking engagement, I couldn’t help but notice the young woman at the security desk. She greeted me with a big smile. “You have a beautiful smile”, I said to her. She lit up. “You made my day!” she said. I lit up. That’s all it took. No fancy techniques, just plain appreciation. How do we bring this type of appreciation to our workplace?
A Powerful Appreciation
Think about it. When we give feedback, we acknowledge what someone has done well – their performance or “doing”. We hardly ever acknowledge who someone is, their “being”. Here’s a powerful appreciation I got recently. A friend of mine who recently decided to leave her corporate job for the world of the “unknown” wrote me this note. Her generosity of spirit brought tears to my eyes.
You inspire me. Leaving a successful corporate career for the unknown took courage and involved risk. At times along your decision making journey, you must have stood at the edge of a cliff, wondering what would happen if you stepped off that edge. From a place deep within yourself, you must have realized that being beaten up by the fall would be better than continuing to stand on the ground of possibility.
Possibility without action is meaningless for you – I see it so clearly in who you are. I marvel at all that you have accomplished in three years. I reflect upon how you have grown both from what I know of your journey and what I see in you now versus when we first met.
It was a joy to see you in class and watch that dumb blonde in you emerge. I smiled to myself at the end of class, knowing you had taken another step forward in your journey after that fantastic weekend.
You go girl! Continue to embrace your purpose of empowering and inspiring women like me with your special Henna way.”
This letter went straight into the special file I have for those blah “what am I doing here again?” days.
Appreciation Makes Us Happier
We know that when we appreciate someone it makes them happy. An experiment conducted and recorded in this video shows that the person doing the appreciating is happier too. It raises happiness levels up to 20%. Watch the powerful appreciations in the video. It’s well worth the seven minutes.
Put Appreciation Into Action
I challenge each of us to find something to appreciate about someone every day and to tell them. Who wants to join me? Try this experiment for 21 days. Report back the results. I’m curious. Does it:
- Make you happier and more engaged at work?
- Help you develop better working relationships with co-workers?
- Help you be less stressed?
- Help you be more creative or productive?
Now, write a powerful note of appreciation to yourself. I know it sounds silly. But humor me. Do it. If you don’t know how to get started, answer these questions:
- What do you most appreciate about yourself (note your qualities, not what you do)?
- What qualities are you most proud of in yourself?
- What are the challenges you’ve overcome?
- What are the strengths you see in yourself?
Next read it out loud to yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror as if you were talking with your best friend. Most times the voice of our inner critic is so incredibly loud, we need our inner best friend to counteract it.
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This article was written by Henna Inam, CEO of Transformational Leadership Inc. Her company works with organizations to help women realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. Her clients drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, UPS, Novartis, J&J, and others who know female leadership talent is good for business. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam