What lies beyond success

By Michael Kline
as published in Conway Daily Sun

Don’t you just love it when someone recommends a book you don’t want to read? I did not need a book called The Success Principles. What could one more book teach me that I hadn't read a thousand times already?! This was the dismissive thought running through my mind as a friend was espousing the wisdom of Jack Canfield.  I have already been outside of my comfort zone, I was already thinking outside the box, I was already living the dream. I reviewed the official checklist of success items in our culture.  My partner and I had already started a business. We had done that 6 times already. We have the house we want, the fancy car, the black lab and a winter home in Florida. I had traveled, tried new things, risked failure, risked success, learned to de-stress, lost weight, embraced nature and enjoy many positive relationships. Leave me alone, my life is perfect!

I had heard it all before.  Responsibility, goals, accountability, blah blah blah. To be honest, I went well beyond blah blah blah, I threw in a yada, yada, yada, which is a considerably more refined denunciation of the particulars being discussed.

You don't know what you don’t know... I should have bought the book. I could have had a quick read and put it on the shelf with a thousand other books, each with its promise to be the one that would change my life. That would have been too easy. Instead, I signed up for a year-long train the trainer program with Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles. I thought did not need the principles, but I did want to expand my training business and learn from the master.

I did not know how to admit I was stuck. I did not know how to set a goal that was (up until then) unrealistic. I did not know how to quiet the critical voices in my head. I did not know that everything I knew for sure was subject to change. If I had read the book, it would have confirmed that I already knew it all and nothing would have changed. The experiential version of the same principles landed me on another planet where there is no gravity, energy is visible and emotions ooze out of your pores. 

How Jack Canfield ruined my life… My life was perfect, until I knew it wasn't. I went into Jack's classroom, ready to become a world-class trainer and grow my seminar business accordingly. Day one - I am in over my head - this room is full of successful entrepreneurs, authors, speakers and gurus of all types, from all over the world. I have done nothing compared to most of these people. What's that? I shouldn't compare myself? I know, but have you seen these people?! What's that? You want me to state my life purpose? Out loud? What's next, you want me to admit my father didn't love me and my mother didn't breast feed me and my biggest fear is that people will find out that I don't really know what I'm doing? Oh. Okay, I admit it. I have baggage. Lots of baggage packed with fears, beliefs I know to be absolute truth, and a couple of jackets called confidence, that I sometimes wear to cover up everything else. Yes, I also packed a swimsuit, just in case I decided to dive in, and running shoes in case I decided to make a break for it. Yes, I'm still speaking in metaphors while wondering if I had adequate writing skills, should it feel necessary to point them out. My ego was a melted puddle on the floor and my self-esteem was rocking in a fetal position in the corner. What a mess Jack Canfield made of my life!

I was happy, healthy, financially secure, capable and confident. Now, my life is about becoming more authentic, vulnerable, loving, open, and pursuing frightening things. I am risking exposure, failure, success, my identity, my self-concept and my future on something as trite as finding my life purpose and living it completely.  I was raised by a man who would say there is no reason to complicate your life with this nonsense. When you have nothing to complain about, just keep your head down and stay out of trouble until you qualify for Social Security and sail off to your funeral. What drives us to yearn for more than simple “Success”, whatever that is? When you have the life everyone else wants, you should be grateful.  What if, beyond being grateful, it still doesn’t feel like enough? What is enough? What could be different to make it better instead of just more? How do we get beyond success, to find real meaning and fulfillment in our lives? Is it simply a matter of redefining the word success to include more meaningful concepts? Why are these concepts so universally sought and yet so universally elusive? This is my new quest. To live my life purpose and help others find and live theirs. It will be hard. It will be scary. I am doing it anyway.

Too Personal for the Workplace

What is it you want to improve at work?  Customer service? Patient care? Quality control? Error rates? Sales? Communications? Employee Engagement? Check out this bit from Inc. Magazine: “Forty-seven percent of employees say that problems in their personal lives sometimes affect their work performance, according to new research by Bensinger, DuPont & Associates. The firm asked 24,000 employees using its employee assistance program how personal issues were affecting their work. More than 16 percent reported that their personal challenges caused absenteeism, and nearly half said it was hard for them to concentrate. Take note: If you think problems in your team's personal lives have nothing to do with you, you're wrong”.

At the far side of every training program there is a goal for work-related improvement. You already possess the technical skills to run the day to day operational aspects of your workplace, so what skills are needed to make the improvements we are talking about?  They are personal by definition. They involve the person and the personality and the unpredictable nature of the person, doing the work. If we do not make the training personal, the complaint would be that we are trying to script/program everyone into robots. At the same time, many people have the notion that personal matters are off-limits in the workplace. It as if there was some sort of law that personal matters are never to be discussed, with every individual deciding where to draw their own line defining what is personal.
Somewhere in the middle of every training program, there is a collage of personal issues that drive the problems and the solutions to our problems. My job is to inspire, motivate and train people in patterns and practices that bring about success, however they define it. If your people have low self-esteem, low self- confidence, their goals are too small, they carry a scarcity mindset, they fear rejection, fear failure, fear success, or do not have a clear vision, are these people going to help build success in your organization?  If you have these qualities, are you going to enjoy success in your career or your life? Imagine having a high level of confidence and the strength to ask for help when needed. Imagine having such an abundance mentality, that credit could be shared, and responsibility could be taken without a need to assign blame for mistakes. Imagine the productivity levels if everyone, including yourself had goals that made sense and correlated with a personal passion to drive results. This is personal. This is uncomfortable.

Indeed, if I do my job correctly, many participants will feel uncomfortable. All the good stuff happens just outside your comfort zone, is a popular phrase on Facebook memes, but that doesn’t make it any easier to be uncomfortable. I often start a workshop with the invitation to get comfortable, being uncomfortable. We can easily get used to being comfortable with a little discomfort and start to experience the richness of personal growth. Mind you, we do not do really deep, super-personal work with groups in a work setting; and we are talking about creating just a little discomfort, balanced with an atmosphere of emotional safety. 

If employees (or employers for that matter), feel unsafe sharing what they consider to be personal matters at work, it could be a reflection of their insecurities or a reflection of the culture in the workplace. If trust with co-workers or the boss is low, we would need to work on that first. This summer, we have been running short public workshops dealing with some very popular topics that dramatically affect how people perform at work. These short workshops are very small groups of people who generally do not know one-another and don’t work together. Somehow, this makes it emotionally safer to get voluntarily more personal. It is almost universally true that people are more comfortable sharing personal insights and challenges with total strangers than they are with coworkers. What does that say about our work relationships? What level of trust is there at work if strangers are safer than co-workers? Strangers are not gunning for your job. Strangers will not fire you, gossip about you, or punish you with lousy schedules as a result of knowing your secret weakness. It is easier to hold in the stress and make ourselves literally, physical ill than it is to risk being vulnerable at work. It pains me to know this. It pains me to know so many workers (and bosses) who are actually living this way. It is unnecessary. It is personal. It is also a work issue. The workplace is making us sick with toxic environments that do not support the emotional needs of the workers. It is my observation that not only do most workplaces not proactively support these needs, many are actively contributing to the problem. We teach what you allow. Shouting at employees, verbally abusing one another, storming around like angry, drunken, violent parents with no coping skills, is acceptable behavior in too many workplaces. On the other end of the spectrum, some employees (and some employers) simply shut down at the first sign of conflict. They may even feel that any question of their work, no matter how kindly presented, is a personal attack. These people simply shut down and walk away from conversations as if their passivity would protect them from the impending storm that does not even exist outside their imagination. We wonder why we must “walk on eggshells” with some people, who are not strong enough to handle any feedback or input at all. How are these situations going to get better without being personal?

We need to be willing to get to know ourselves and care for ourselves first. We then need to know and care for one another. We connect with others through stories, awareness and empathy. We build trust by extending trust, by making and keeping promises, and by being transparent. These things require personal strength and self-confidence. It is time to get uncomfortable and stop hiding behind our “right” to not deal with personal matters. It is time to live healthy, happy, vibrant lives and surround ourselves with other happy, healthy vibrant people.

Employee Engagement - What it is and how to get it

by Michael Kline

Last week, I had the pleasure of conducting a workshop for a group of human resource executives from around New Hampshire. To be as participatory as possible, we used Circle Process to facilitate the program, and opened with a check-in question to identify the meaning of "engagement" in the various organizations represented. We built a center focal point of the words shared by the participants. Mostly the words and accompanying explanations were traditional, such as participation, teamwork, compassion, communication, drive, active, respect, etc. All of these certainly are indicative of engagement. Further discussion went to explore ways to measure employee engagement, possible ways to increase it and challenges to expect in the process.

We discussed Gallup’s defining surveys on employee engagement. Gallup surveys over 6400 employees representing a wide demographic, scoring employee engagement nationwide. Painting with broad brushstrokes, less than 30% of employees are engaged, about 50% are neutral and almost 20% are actually hostile. How do we measure engagement? The survey asks participants to rate a variety of issues ranging from having a best friend at work, to having the tools necessary to do a good job, to getting feedback on their work. The results of the Gallup research are closely tied to a company's financial bottom line, as well as customer satisfaction, work quality and safety issues.

Problems occur when management focuses excessively on measurable short-term results. They do not have time for emotional issues; they simply need employees to show up and produce results. These management types often define engagement as showing up and putting in long hours. Knowing that engagement is a trendy topic, they often plaster the trendy “engagement” word on the same old programs and pretend it is something new. This is not the same as truly embracing the complexities of whole-person leadership in the knowledge-worker age. Unless you are running an assembly line with illegal immigrants, the industrial age is over.  It is time to move beyond these old management models. Un-engaged  management often calls real engagement work "touchy-feely stuff” and they relegate it to the HR department to process it for lower level employees, so long as it doesn't cut into productivity time or budget.

The solution is for management to become a leadership team and understand that engagement is the shortest path to sustainable results. Engagement is measurable and is directly tied to all areas of results for employees, customers, stockholders, vendors, etc. Engagement requires vulnerability, which requires enormous strength and courage. Engagement requires giving employees a voice, but not necessarily a vote. It requires making everyone feel safe, cared-for, heard and respected, even when they do not get their way. In such an environment, it is possible to build consensus and support even while disagreeing. The time-consuming hard work required to invest in engagement produces a culture of high trust, low cost, fast moving, mission-focused, and committed workers doing what they do best, in the best possible way.

The vast majority of the good work employees do is discretionary. They do not actually have to do their best work to keep their job – just compare your top producers with your least productive who still keep their jobs. Cleary, the top producers go above and beyond what is technically required of them. Your goal is to get them to do that more often and to enjoy doing it. The joy they find in giving more is the only reward they need. This only happens if the employer is deserving and when the employee is emotionally connected to the work, the mission and the values of their employer.

Because I wanted to model high-engagement practices, our HR workshop allowed for a high level of audience participation. One participant asked a question that was supported by the group and shifted the focus from what I expected I would be teaching. Teaching what the group wants to learn is far more engaging than teaching what I want to teach. The lesson is that identifying ideas that employees find important, and taking advantage of the energy that lies within those ideas, is how employers can engage the discretionary contribution of employees.

We have 8,800 non-profit organizations in NH. With most employees not engaged at work, huge numbers of employees choose to donate their personal time to non-profit and charity work. This is further evidence that many employees have much more to give than their work requires or even allows them to contribute. People have more to give, but not at work, because work is more emotionally exhausting than it is rewarding. People would rather do work that is technically even harder to do, but that is more emotionally satisfying. This represents the untapped potential of the team you already have on payroll. They are starving for an employer that will allow them to reach their potential, to contribute to something worthwhile, to grow in mastery, autonomy and with purpose. Your opportunity is to unleash that potential for them.

Michael Kline is a Certified RIM Facilitator and trainer for personal and group transformation. You can reach him through his website www.intus.life, or e-mail mike@intus.life.

From Orphan to Soul Man

By Michael Kline
as published in Conway Daily Sun

I spend several weeks each year, attending retreats and seminars to hone my training and coaching skills. Of course, each of these adventures involves as much personal growth work as it does skills training. Personal growth work is not difficult or painful, except when it is. My regular readers know that I am always willing to share my vulnerable and uncomfortable growth lessons with you. This is one of those articles. I am writing this article from Denver, where I just finished my final week of Certification Training at The RIM Institute. Regenerating Images in Memory (RIM) is a powerful Integrative Wellness Technique useful for myriad issues personal and professional. As a RIM facilitator, it is important for me too consistently do self-work, which is the subject of this story.
This story is for the benefit of anyone who has ever been, or would likely be, embarrassed at a workshop by participating, speaking or performing in front of the entire class. Picture being asked to share a personal story, or to lead the class in a dance exercise as an energy break. The worst one I have ever done until this week, was to get into a group, and lead them in a dance. Disco. The group was to follow my lead and mimic my every move. Just shoot me. I survived that exercise when I did it a year ago, but I disliked it enough to not want to inflict it on my own classes, so fear not, regular students!

Last week, my classmates and I received an assignment so bizarre, I was certain it was a trick assignment. Perhaps the goal was to get us to stand up to authority and refuse to perform such a ridiculous task that could not possibly serve any purpose other than to humiliate us. I have a great deal of trust in our instructor whom I have known and worked closely with for over a year, so I decided to play full out. Then I thought I might make a run for it instead. I could head to the airport and abandon my certification. No, no, I can do this. No way, I can do this. This cannot be done. Oh grow up and get to work, I finally told myself. It was 2pm and we had 4 hours until we were to be on stage presenting our work to classmates and invited guests. How far was the airport again?!  Was I being too much of a chicken? It is not like I was asked to play Chicken Little being transformed into Wonder Woman singing This Little Light of Mine. Or worse, I could have been asked to model Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady being transformed into Dr. Seuss singing a Barbara Streisand song. Now that would have been ridiculous and humiliating, am I right?!  These were real assignments, beautifully delivered by two of my classmates. I had it easy; my only task was to portray Harry Potter as the pre-wizard orphan living under his aunt and uncle’s staircase. I was to transform into John Belushi singing Soul Man. Yes, I was given the lyrics and the music, being expected to sing and dance. I don’t sing. Ever. Not even Happy Birthday. I rarely dance in front of sober people. Actually, I am certain I have never danced in front of sober witnesses. Surely, there would be valuable lessons in this exercise. To think I paid good money for this experience. I combed my hair over my forehead and donned my sexy new Harry Potter glasses. I waived my magic wand with a few spells that were completely ineffective at making the audience or myself disappear. As Harry stopped being small, he discovered powers from within. As Harry transformed himself, using the genius he found within, he grew and found his soul; his voice. As wand and wire-rims were replaced with hat and dark sunglasses… I’m a Soul Man.
Lessons learned: I can sing and dance like a soul man. I will never get a recording contract, but I will do anything to become the person who can best help my students and clients. I look ok in a hat. I look freakishly like Harry Potter in wire rims and I can own that too. I am me, and once I did what I once judged ridiculous, I found that the judge voices I have carried in my head for 50 years were silent. They dared not speak. I think I scared the crap out of the voices in my head. They probably left for their own little judgmental airport for fear of being embarrassed, caught in their lies and weakness. No little voices in our head can be as big as our true voice once found and expressed into the world. You do not have to do this particular exercise, but you do have to find your voice and your soul and share them, lest you die under the weight of the weak and judgmental voices carrying lies.

It’s all in your imagination

By Michael Kline
as Published in Conway Daily Sun

When we imagine an amazing dinner, a walk on the beach, a new romance, or just getting home to relax, the images in our mind are very real to our brain and our body. These images can change our heart rate, our breathing, our stress levels... the brain does not know the difference between real and imagined. If you close your eyes and imagine you are on a giant rollercoaster… slowly, slowly, rolling up toward the sky… looking almost straight up… you feel yourself leveling off at the top…the track disappears in front of you… your stomach senses the impending drop… you feel that? Even as you sit safely on the ground, reading this article, you can create a physical reaction in your body. Your brain sends the same signals raising your blood pressure and stress levels, and releasing cortisol and adrenalin as if the event were real. If you have ever blushed when embarrassed, or if your stomach churns when you speak in public, you are already a believer in the mind-body connection. It is so easy to demonstrate how our brain affects our body whether the event in our brain is real or imagined. Somehow, when it is suggested that our brain has a role in disease, illness and physical pain, we tend to prefer a reliance on western medicine, pharmaceuticals and hard science. As science advances to explain phenomena that only a few years ago were considered too hokey for mainstream consideration, it begs bigger questions.

If the brain has such influence over the physical body, imagine the influence it has over our emotions, fears, hopes, inhibitions and even our most strongly held beliefs. Humans are born with only two natural fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Everything else is a learned fear, based on some experience or outside influence. The things we hold most dear in our belief system are all made up and placed into our minds by our parents, teachers, preachers, TVs and experiences. Imagine if just some of the things you were convinced to believe were false. What if you could earn a living doing what you love? What if you could find the perfect mate? What if being fat (or skinny/short/bald/poor/stupid) was not in your genes? What if you were smart enough to pursue what you want? What if guilt did not exist? What if money was not the root of all evil? What if you were pretty enough? What if you were strong enough? What if the neighbors’ opinions did not matter? What if thinking of yourself was not selfish? What if worrying and was unnecessary? What if suffering was optional? What if you were not subject to harsh judgment for every mistake you make? Would you be willing to consider just the possibility of some of your beliefs being untrue?

This concept affects everything we do at home and at work. If we believe we are always subject to harsh judgment for mistakes, are we less likely to take risks at work or in business? Does being successful at work require taking some measured risk? For many people, just speaking an opinion or idea out loud, even when solicited by the boss, is too intimidating due to the fear of being judged stupid, naïve or unqualified in some way. It is easier to stay quiet than take the risk. A low-trust environment may have influenced this, or more likely, it is the perception of fear based on our imagination. Somewhere in our childhood, we made a decision about how the world works. We all have vivid memories of mini-traumas; maybe it was that time in the third grade when you raised your hand, made a silly comment and everyone laughed at you. Maybe your parents sarcastically said you would never be a brain surgeon. Whatever it was, maybe it is time to reconsider your beliefs. After all, a belief is just at thought that we keep on thinking. Once we think something, we start to find and store evidence to prove our thoughts correct. Then we keep thinking it and it becomes a belief.

When I work with private clients, they have amassed evidence to prove their beliefs. In a typical session we identify the original thought that started the belief and uncover a mountain of evidence that would prove alternative beliefs. Armed with new evidence to consider, it is then possible to make new choices about how their world works for them.

Having witnessed this transformation too many times to count, I know we can choose a new truth. We can show up at work ready to serve and prosper, while helping others prosper. We can come home every day, fulfilled and eager to enjoy our loved ones. We have the power to use our brains to alter our physical state in an instant, which means we have the power to use our brains to create whatever experience we want in our lives. Sure, it takes a little training and sometimes a lot of clearing of old ways, but consider the payoff. What if dreams really do come true? What if anything really is possible?

Accountability, a threat or promise?

Imagine you are sitting in a meeting at work. The manager leading the meeting announces, “we are going to be holding you accountable for results on this project.”  What response do you feel in your gut? You might think this is great - finally, the lazy bums I’ve been carrying will be doing their fair share. More likely, you might feel that the entire team is being threatened – as usual, management will be looking for someone to blame if their plan doesn’t work. If you work in a culture of high trust, you might feel reassured. Your team makes and keeps promises to one another and this project will be no different. You can count on others to support you and they will be counting on you.

What does accountability mean anyway?  When we first learned about accountability as a child, it was probably through one of three ways, religion, parenting or teams/society.  Your lessons in accountability might have been threatening - as in when you die, you will be held accountable for your sins. You better not screw up, or your will pay for every mistake or bad decision you ever make. Further, you will pay the ultimate and highest price imaginable. Perhaps your parents had a system of carrots and sticks such as an allowance and privileges associated with the completion of chores and homework, and punishment associated with a failure to perform as expected.  Beyond religion and parents, society teaches us what is expected and how we will be held accountable for achieving or not achieving what is expected.  That society could have been made up of scenes on the playground, classrooms or sports teams. The closest I ever got to sports, was that time I was “sporting” a bad haircut. I learned that, as a child, if you have bad hair, your peers held you accountable for “less than expected” performance. Unfortunately, that playground standard is still the norm for many people, and we all have bad hair days.

I was a band geek, so on a more positive note (pun certainly intended), I learned about teamwork and accountability by only being able to achieve my goal by working with up to 200 other people in perfect harmony (pun certainly intended), to produce the desired outcome. There was an implied and voluntary promise to practice, learn our parts, listen to one another, play in the background when that was your job, and to step up and perform brightly in a solo when that was your job. Every mistake made in practice brought encouragement from the “team” who could not succeed without my success. Every mistake was letting my friends down and drove me to work harder for the goal.

This was different from any other experience in my young life because it was voluntary. I chose to be in band. When we do not care about the goal or the team, there are not enough carrots and sticks in the world to make us better.

Accountability works best when it is a voluntary, two-way promise, made between parties with a high level of trust, to produce win/win results that matter to everyone involved. When employees have no input in the plan, when they are told what to believe in and how to produce the results, when teammates are negative and uncaring, it is impossible to carrot and stick them into being accountable for your success. A culture of mediocrity will not produce more than mediocre results. Results will only change when the culture changes.

To be accountable is to be trustworthy. Like all virtues, this begins with our self. Without it, we will not be comfortable being held accountable and we will not honestly and effectively hold others accountable. If we break our promise to get up early, exercise, eat right, be patient with our kids and clean the garage, we no longer trust ourselves. We do not like or feel good about people we do not trust. If this resonates with you, do not beat yourself up. I teach a number of methods to turn this around easily and quickly. You are a good person who is doing good things. Most of us just need a tweak now and then to get back on the right track.

Involve your team, keep your promises and be strong enough to value feedback. Engage your team by actually wanting and valuing their input. Keep promises by making sure you keep promises to yourself. Solicit and value feedback – after all, if you are screwing up and no one says anything, it means they have given up on you. Only speak what you truly believe and do what you say. Most of us think we already follow this, but others might misunderstand our actions and not believe we walk the talk. In teams, others’ perceptions are critical if accountability is to be a promise, not a threat.

Appreciating Employees

By Michael Kline
as published in Conway Daily Sun

Before you look for ideas on how to show your appreciation to employees, it is easier if you actually feel some appreciation for them in the first place. Where do you fall on the appreciation spectrum? 

At opposing ends of the spectrum, one employer (who may sound shocking to some) says “Employees are paid to do a job; they cost wages, benefits and taxes, plus recruiting and training is expensive. Now they want a bonus for doing what they were hired and paid to do in the first place. There is no loyalty so they’ll leave the minute they get a better offer anyway.  Most employees only do what is required of them, and only care about their paycheck.”

At the other end of the spectrum, an employer (who may sound shocking to some), says “I could not live without my staff. We would have nothing if not for them. Most of the best ideas come from my people, my customers love them and they come up with solutions to problems before I even know we had a problem, they create new ideas to make our work more fun, and they’re always inventing some new and better way of doing things. I owe my career and financial results to my team!”

If you find yourself wishing you lived at the positive end of that spectrum, but it seems unrealistic, you should know that such work places do exist. In fact, they are more common than you might think. If you’ve never seen such a workplace, it may seem impossible to achieve. I invite you to expose yourself to more positivity – read books like Theory U (okay, that’s a giant book that never ends, but I would give you credit if you just skimmed a few chapters). Read Conscious Capitalism and/or Firms of Endearment.  The companies featured in Firms of Endearment are the highest super-achieving companies in the world, yet what they do and how they do it is startlingly simple. The culture described above is in fact, possible as soon as the leadership believes it is possible. Once their minimum financial needs are met, most staff values appreciation more than money and benefits.

To increase your appreciation of staff, start by appreciating your staff.  That’s right, appreciate is a verb – it is something you do, so just do it. I have a few gratitude buddies. Each morning, I text this small group a short statement of something I am grateful for.  There are 4 of us in the group, so if I forget one morning, I will get a text or two from my buddies to remind me. I admit, some days it can be difficult to feel grateful, even though intellectually I can name 100 little things for which I could be grateful, I may just not be feeling it. Bringing this to my attention is powerful. I force myself to state something, anything.  You could do this at work each morning and make it about something or someone at work that you are grateful for that day.  You may be surprised at how powerful this exercise is when you do it every day. If you’re at that point, you could encourage your entire staff to participate in something similar.

If you are not normally one who expresses your appreciation, you may be seen as insincere when you start making awkward and manipulative sounding statements. Just smacking someone on the back and saying “good job” might backfire and build resentment. I suggest you be honest and make yourself a little vulnerable. Simply start by admitting that you have become aware that you don’t express your appreciation well and you would like to get better at that. Tell them up front that you are trying to get better and that you value their contribution. If you are a step-by-step person, try building up to the thank you in 3 simple steps – use their name, tell them what you appreciate them for, how it helped, and then end by saying thank you.  For example “Alice, I appreciate your help with the newsletter. Thanks to you, we got two new customers this week who responded to your idea you put in the newsletter and it already brought in X dollars. Good job. Thank you!”  Now, would that be so hard?  - Remember – use their name, what they did, how it helped and thank you!

Anyone can do this, you don’t have to wait for your boss to lead the way. In fact, the boss might get more comfortable after she sees you modeling it! Anyone can follow this technique with any co-worker, boss, supplier or customer.  Think about it, on days when you went home feeling under-appreciated, would it have helped if anyone at all had shown some appreciation to you? Of course it would!  So you can do the same for anyone you meet. Try it on the cashier at the grocery store. Try it on your spouse or children. As the saying goes, become the change you want to see in the world.

I appreciate you. I am grateful to my readers who email me and share my columns via Facebook or email. This helps spread positivity and productivity to others and when you send me messages it encourages me to write more and lets me know my work has value. That makes it much easier for me to do what I do every day. Thank you!