Realizing what others do for you

Airport

As I stand at the airport writing this post I’m reminded of Memorial Day. Yes, it is the day AFTER Memorial Day but it is still appropriate to remember, salute and celebrate the men and women serving in the armed forces and all that they have done for us. I see people rushing to their gates, families walking together and others just checking today’s news. Life is in full swing. And that is the biggest gift that we have received – normal is back after Memorial Day where we’ve all put our thankful hats away and go back to our previously scheduled life. It’s this way with the majority of us. And it’s evident in many areas of our lives. But what if we could have this attitude flowing naturally in our thoughts, words and actions? Being Thankful.

Thankfulness is such a strong attribute, it should be intertwined in every aspect of our lives. However, to really capture our hearts, it needs to be based on the realization of  what others have indeed done for us. It’s more than words. It’s understanding in your attitude the decisions, sacrifices and directions others have taken to your benefit.

This is what my wife and I have taught our children. Often, the perfect situation plays out like this…

Me: “Son, that was nice that your friend shared his soccer ball with you.”

Son: “I know, I really like his soccer ball.”

Me: “Great, now what do you say?”

Son: “Thank you.”

Me: “What in fact are you thankful for?”

Son: “I’m thankful for his soccer ball.”

Me: “Are you thankful that he shared?”

Son: “Yes.”

Me: “Make sure you tell him.”

Son: “Thank you for sharing your soccer ball.”

Friend: “You are welcome.”

(For readership experience, all crying, yelling and kicking have been omitted from this conversation. My son is not perfect and I do not claim for him to be, but he is learning just like I am.)

My wife and I really try to focus on reminding them not only to show their thankfulness but to acknowledge their reason for and by appreciating someone else’s words or actions towards them. Emphasizing on this type of behavior is so powerful and I have seen my children exemplifying it in the smallest of occasions. Interestingly enough, I’ve also seen the person/parties being recognized continuing to develop other behaviors that are positive and important in their lives. In the case of my son’s friend, he has continuously developed a desire to share his toys.

The same holds true in our work lives. This week I’ll be visiting a sales channel that we partner with in Atlanta. After a slow start to the year our numbers are going up and we’re hitting our monthly goals again. Last month was particularly successful and so part of my trip is to show how much I appreciate their commitment, hard work and focus on meeting our objectives. In my bag I have individual thank you cards, hand written with a particular note specific for each of the individuals. Each note zooms in on their contribution, their actions and the results their were directly involved. My goal is to continue to foster thankfulness in myself and motivate them to grow in their professional life.

This is a never-ending process. As I finish this post I’m reminded of this truth… my flight has been delayed a second time… trying to be thankful for voucher I just received, since what I really want is to get on that flight.

Starting with the Why

Why

I’ve been so busy the last few months that the question came up…

Why do I do all that I do?

I have this ambition of doing more and being more, for myself and for others. But why? The why is the motive. Understanding the motive behind one’s action should always be the starting point.

I’ve spent some time looking at the why and realized what I have thought: most successful people, movements and businesses focus on the why. The why is the background catalyst for a mission statement, the setting of goals and all that one hopes to achieve. Inspirational leaders get this and I want to get it too. Author Simon Simek presented it best in his 2009 book “Start With Why.” He shares this truth by pointing it out in the following examples…

The Wright Brothers wanted to see a man fly. They thought it was possible and it didn’t matter how they did it. At the end of the day, they were not out to invent the plane but to make the though of aerial transportation a reality.

Martin Luther King had a dream that all men would be treated equally. He built a social movement before social media was ever a thought. In a time before cell phones, Facebook or twitter, he gathered people for an icon march in Washington simply because there was a compelling why to his dream.

Apple envisioned through the leadership of Steve Jobs easy-to-use computers and other electronic devices that would make life easier. At the end of the day, they didn’t create the MP3 player but the an iconic product like the IPod; they didn’t create the tablet but the IPad. As a business, Apple has been more successful because their mission has resonated with the need for easy-to-use products.

I have recently applied this approach when preparing for a sales training; focusing on the why of our business, the why of our strategies and the why for each of the employees I was coaching. It has been interesting to see them understand and feel the soul of our business in a way that makes them productive. Furthermore, in getting to know each employee, I’ve been able to connect the why of our business to the why of their hard work, their dreams and ambitions.

So…

Why do I do all that I do every day? To learn new skills and develop my understand of the business world. To provide for my family. To be a better husband and a better father. To be a good friend. To motivate and inspire other to reach their full potential.

Why do YOU do what you do?