The Case For Gratitude

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Communication, Happiness, Kelly

~ by Kelly Bush ~

Please, sir, I want some more… some more please and thank you, that is.

If there is a buzzword as we transition from 2016 into 2017, I think the case can be made that it is gratitude. For the past few years, discussions about gratitude have infiltrated popular culture. Even the packaging on products such as tea and chocolates exhort us to take a moment and focus on gratitude. Articles proclaim the health benefits of expressing and feeling gratitude, and in recent yoga classes I find my teachers are referencing its role in our well-being more and more.

So if gratitude has become ubiquitous, why then does it seem to remain somewhat elusive in the work environment?

If gratitude helps us thrive in all aspects of our lives – and is even good for our health – then why isn’t it on the rise at work? After all, saying please and thank you to our colleagues costs nothing but a bit of thought and a moment of time. It is essentially free and yet possesses such great value. So why isn’t it being distributed more generously? And what can we do about this?

First, you have to look for it.

Stressed business woman
When I decided a few years ago to change careers, one of the many things that influenced that decision was my frustration with what felt like an almost complete lack of gratitude in my then-profession. There was a pervasive culture of over-work, one-upmanship and unreasonable expectations combined with inadequate reward/recognition that was incongruous with my values and happiness. It left me feeling trod upon and resentful and that is NOT how I thrive.

When employers fail to recognize the value of their employees appreciably – whether in words, with compensation or by giving growth opportunities – they lose talent. Losing talent means losing the resources invested in developing that talent and even if nothing else here resonates, in simple terms it means a hit to the bottom line. If that doesn’t wake people up … well …

While not every role or organization I now pursue will necessarily be a hive of graciousness, I have found that because I now prioritize gratitude, I am better able to find it. For more than a year I recently had the privilege of working for someone who said please and thank you for nearly everything. I knew that when I went the extra mile to achieve a result that my manager saw my efforts and appreciated them because he always said thank you.

When leadership acknowledges your contribution to the organization, it is an incredible motivator to continue to perform at a higher level. It cost him nothing to let me know my work was appreciated, but that had great value to me. (Thank you, Richard.)

So what do I do when gratitude isn’t forthcoming?

A common piece of career advice is to model your hours/style/attire/practices on those of your supervising managers and to look to them as exemplars. If gratitude isn’t a noticeable part of their professional arsenal, and leadership hasn’t incorporated gratitude into their professional practices, then what? I don’t advocate jumping ship straightaway – because gratitude goes both ways – and walking away without a plan isn’t usually commendable. (There can be exceptions.)

Wedding favors
What helps me thrive in these situations is to take back my agency. Because regardless of a manager’s choices, I am free to be gracious and grateful at work. Whether or not other people engage with gratitude, I am always free to do so. That means say please. Say thank you. Say these things when a colleague does something you appreciate or need. Thank your supervisors when they spend an extra minute teaching you something, or give you an opportunity or help expand your skill set.

Literally be the change you wish to see. It may not change how leadership operates, but my experience has been that I feel more satisfaction at work and thrive more professionally when I know I have expressed gratitude to my colleagues. Upholding my own personal code of conduct has little to do with the choices made by others.

Gratitude for the imperfect.

Sometimes it becomes clear that even after bringing your own gratitude to the table and having served it generously, there just isn’t enough to go around. And that may mean that after thoughtful consideration, it is time to look for a new opportunity or to simply leave.

In my experience, this has been a difficult decision and usually involves disappointment, frustration and sometimes, anger. It is at this point that gratitude becomes absolutely necessary. Because whatever the reason for which I chose to part company with an organization, there are things for which I am grateful – and must express gratitude – in order to thrive in my next role.

There are things I learned. There are things I learned to avoid. There are skills I honed and experience on which I expanded. Sometimes learning that something is not right for me is the lesson I take away from something. And while it may not have been pleasant to learn, I find I am grateful for the knowledge afterward.

Happy woman meditating in a beautiful setting.
In finding gratitude for what an experience taught me – however imperfectly – I am able to recognize its value and role in my career. I am better able to see what was positive and when moving forward, to see its merit and integrate it into my own professional arsenal. Because as the many articles, advisors, teachers and gurus have been proclaiming, gratitude is good for us. It has become essential for me to thrive at work (and life).

by Kelly Bush | LinkedIn

Kelly Bush

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It Just Takes A Little Time (Management)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Planning, Stephanie, Success, Time Management

By Stephanie Harbison ~

Anyone who knows me probably knows I’m a little neurotic when it comes to time management, and almost everything goes on the calendar. I’m a pretty organized person by nature, so I always have to-do lists and carry around a cute planner.

But it wasn’t until I started my career at Northwestern Mutual that I started to take time management really seriously. In fact, everyone around here takes it really seriously! When you are managing a client base and meeting with several clients a day, you can’t afford be anything but purposeful with your time. I realized I wasn’t going to be successful if I didn’t have a plan going in to each day, and a way to evaluate my progress at the end of the day. At Northwestern Mutual this is actually called posting & planning, and it has been an absolute life changer. I’ll talk more about this later.

Time management is one of those terms that is tossed around, but what does it actually mean and how do you become good at it? A person may think he has good time management skills and work well under pressure at the last minute when in fact, that is just called procrastination!

When I think of someone with good time management skills I’m always envious of the person who always seems at ease but at the same time seems to be involved in everything! Now I know no one can be involved in everything and be good at it all, but it’s okay to dream, right?

My favorite definition of time management, according to Wikipedia, is “the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.” I appreciate that it emphasizes it is a process and one has to use conscious effort to be more productive. In other words, it takes work!

I am one of those people who used to say I was a good “multitasker,” and took pride in being able to work on lots of tasks at a time. Until I realized that I was NOT a good multitasker at all, and I am just very easily distracted! Each time I start working on something I get a text from my husband letting me know of a change in dinner plans, or another email notification, or Facebook reminds me that it’s my best friend’s birthday, or someone walks into my office.

It is easy to want to tend to those things right away, but then it just feels like I’m fighting fires all day long and nothing meaningful gets accomplished! I’m sure most people can relate to this. One of my favorite quotes to sum up this exact scenario is from performance coach and author, Jason Selk: “The noise of urgency creates the illusion of importance.” The truth is those distractions are never going to go away, so we have to work at managing our behavior so we can recognize what is an actual priority and what can wait.

As I learn from my own mistakes, and see others struggle to manage their time, I notice there are many culprits that keep people from being more productive. There is the tendency to over-commit oneself. This person finds herself saying yes to every opportunity or social event that comes up and ends up feeling like she can’t give 100 percent of her attention to anything.

Then there is procrastination, which everyone probably experiences once in a while. When there is a big or daunting project it can be tough to get started so we wait until the very last minute to pump out mediocre work.

And then there are those who are guilty of trying to do everything on their own. I see so many business owners and managers who are too afraid to delegate, then when they should be with their family or need to take a day off, they can’t because there is no one else there to step in and pick up the slack!

Maybe you struggle with one or many of these time management busters, but there is hope! I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but these are just a few tips that have been helpful for me improve productivity and effectiveness in both my life at work and at home.

  1. Identify your goals

It’s tough to know where you should be spending your time if you don’t have any established goals. Take time to understand what you are actually trying to accomplish in the short and long term, and then ask yourself if your current behavior and activities will actually help you accomplish those goals. Beware; this may bring some harsh realities.

  1. Prioritize

Once you’ve determined your goals, break them down into manageable daily processes that will help you reach those goals. This is a concept I learned as I worked with performance coach Jason Selk. These processes should be your top priority every day (your most important tasks), and you may need to rearrange some things in your schedule to make sure they happen. These things, done consistently, are what will help you get closer to those goals.

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  1. Get a good planner

I’m not even going to talk much about this one. If you rely on your memory to remind you of an appointment in 3 weeks, or assume someone else will remind you, you’ve got to get a planner! These are not expensive, and they don’t have to be fancy. If you don’t have a planner, chances are you are not following through on all of your commitments, and probably disappointing people around you.

  1. Have a planning day each week

Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to write down everything you have going on that week. Are you hoping to fit in 5 workouts? I know from personal experience, if you put it on the calendar you are much more likely to actually do those workouts. This also helps you visualize all your commitments and make necessary changes ahead of time if you know you can’t fit everything in.

  1. Post and plan each day

This is that term I mentioned earlier. Take time at the end of each work day to evaluate your progress and plan for the next day. Did you complete all of the most important items on your list? What things do you need to have prepared for tomorrow? Don’t leave last minute preparations for a meeting for tomorrow morning. If you spend a few extra minutes before you head out to prep for the next day, you will get to work feeling much more confident and ready to tackle your most important tasks.

  1. Schedule time to focus

If you know you have a big deadline or know you are guilty of procrastinating, schedule time in your calendar to work only on this task, and eliminate distractions. If you wait until you feel like it to start working on that big research paper, you will most likely end up waiting until the last minute, once again.

  1. Don’t try to do everything all in one day

I am super guilty of pressuring myself to do everything on my to-do list all in one day, and then I feel disappointed when I only complete a few of them. Keep focused on those most important tasks you identified, and avoid creating self-imposed deadlines for tasks that can most likely wait.

I could probably write 10 more posts on this subject, so this list is in no way exhaustive. You may have some tips or tricks that help you stay on top of all of life’s demands. I would love to hear what works for you!

 

by stephanie harbison | email | linkedin

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