One of my current reads is “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor and without telling too many stories out of school about his book (which is worth reading). Achor’s centers his story on the concept that a happy mind is a productive mind. Ok, this message might not be big news as most of us work in corporations were the motto is “the beatings will continue until morale improves“. However in life the fact is sometimes the truth is hidden in the obvious, and it takes a “light bulb” moment for us to get it. So let’s find the missing bulb and have that moment.
A good example experiencing of “that moment” happened about a decade ago, as for several years I had been doing work for a major automotive company in the Dearborn Michigan area. During this time if you can imagine I was housed in this dirty dumpy old light manufacturing building which hadn’t seen a lick of remodeling or cleaning since the 1970’s. In keeping with the fore mentioned decor, on one of the walls in the common hallways was a poster from the same period which read “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” along with a supporting background graphic. Now I had walked by this thing more often than I could count during my time working at this site, also I am old enough to remember when this cliché was a semi-viral fad too. So as you can quickly guess there wasn’t any magic in this for me, at least at this point anyway.
However it wasn’t till one day when I was walking back down this same hallway with a colleague who had joined our team rather recently from India and we came upon this same poster which I had passed by a thousand times before. It was at this moment he stopped and stared at the wall hanging for what seemed like the longest while. Then the biggest smile I ever saw came over his face and he started pointing furiously and asking me if I had ever seen this before to which I answered “yes of course” I had. Now what has stayed with me for over a decade since that day is the realization of seeing something so simple, so plain yet with so much amazement through another human beings eyes, that I am now careful not to pass up the trees for the forest as occasionally the simplest ideas are the hardest to get.
This is where Mr Achor’s message starts to take shape as one of the (many) things he suggests is so simple it’s almost crazy in that he says get this. Start the day out, and he means the first e-mail, yes the very, very first e-mail as a “thank you” to somebody for something! Whoa! What a concept to say thank you, why would anybody want to do that? Don’t these people get paychecks for dealing with you? Now they want a thank you too, come on this is corporate America right, we work in a global organization as cogs in the BIG machine and when was the last time a cog said thank you?
Well that’s the point, we are people and not cogs and it’s an easy thing to forget and I am as guilty of it as everyone else. However as a person and not a “cog” I can change, I can and will make a difference. So you know what I did this morning, the very first thing as I sat in front of my computer? Yupper your right, I picked one of the 300 e-mails and wrote a brief (Shawn says just a line or two) thank you to that person for what they had done for me. Did I feel all inspired after that one mail, well no. However I didn’t feel all bad either and would bet the person which I thanked didn’t run down the street after getting it. However I will wager you a dollar for that donut on your desk it was the only “business” thank you that they got today.
So what does it hurt, give it a try as I will again tomorrow morning first thing by sending a mail sharing my appreciation. Let me know how it works for you…