Thursday, December 1, 2016

Did Thanksgiving fly by?

Where were you one week ago? It was Thanksgiving. Did you spend it with family or friends? Did you tell others how thankful you are for the people you live and work with? Did you feel a little more grateful before the main meal that day? Were you thankful the Lions, Cowboys, or Steelers won their NFL games?

No matter how you spent the day, I hope you had a chance to ponder the good things in your life.
I wonder, though, how many people have kept the gratitude attitude since that day? Have you been as thoughtful about life’s goodness since Thanksgiving or did you return quickly to the routines of the week?

I traveled to Montana for the holiday, and I confess to returning to the routine upon the return home. It’s like I left the extra special feelings far away from home. I realized that earlier today during yet another conversation about how time flies. In the book Put Your Whole Self In!, I mention that time often flies the fastest when we are not paying attention.

Being thankful is one way to slow down so life doesn’t pass us by.

Counting blessings causes greater satisfaction in life. 

According to study results published a few years ago in The Wall Street Journal, adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.

Another fantastic outcome of counting blessings is that it stimulates reciprocity. Research shows people who recognize how they have benefitted from help of others, eagerly help others more than ungrateful people do.

Since gratitude can stimulate more positive behaviors, we should seek to live more gratefully and inspire others to do the same whether we are managers or teammates. Right?

If you’re ready to count your blessings more deliberately, consider the list below and choose the ones that will inspire you the most.

  1. Take 3 minutes each morning to ponder the good things in your life.
  2. Write up to 5 things you’re grateful for in a journal each day. Consider listing people, experiences, challenges, material things, and skills.
  3. Have a Gratitude Visit once a week with a colleague. While it is certainly okay to email to express appreciation, it often means more when delivered in person.
  4. Express appreciation for the mundane, not just the monumental. The tendency is to thank those who go the extra mile, but don’t forget those who worked hard to complete the mile. Don’t overlook those who do the daily routines that keep this place, or your team, humming along.
  5. Ponder what you don’t have. Be thankful for unanswered life requests or desires. (Did Garth Brooks’s song Unanswered Prayers come to mind?)

If the gratitude you felt a week ago has subsided already, consider taking a few actions to bring it back. Slow life down a little by counting blessings, and you will be more satisfied and will start a chain reaction of helpfulness. Ah! Now, that would be something to be grateful for every day!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Is your business motto "close enough"? Here's the one way to tell

Today I was treated to lunch at a mid-priced restaurant on Kansas City's Plaza. The restaurant has been known for outstanding service for at least 25 years, and today was no exception. Don't you love when the server is friendly and professional, the server knows precisely when to interrupt and when to back off, the food is delivered as order to the right person, and the bill is accurate and easy to process? The restaurant enhanced the experience with a colleague.

It was almost perfect.

The only mistake was one of miscommunication. (Aren't they all?)

This one was about Diet Coke. When the server took beverage orders, the requests were for water and Diet Coke. She returned with water and Coke Light. Coke Light is not Diet Coke. For the uninitiated, they might seem like the same thing. For Diet Coke aficionados, the difference would have been like serving lite beer to someone who ordered Guinness or Guinness to someone who ordered Diet Coke.

The restaurant is ultra service oriented. They care about the dining experience. People often chalk miscues like this up to disinterest, lack of caring, or laziness. None of those apply here. I also would not presume they get Coke Light for less than they could get Diet Coke, so I doubt it is financially based either.

This misunderstanding of their customer is based on good intentions, and fixing this could improve the dining experience of their customers who order Diet Coke. As a Diet Coke fan, I was surprised a different beverage was delivered then was disappointed when it was not tasteful to me.

When customers tell you what they expect (e.g. Diet Coke) and you deliver something close enough (e.g. Coke Light), what message are you sending them? 

The restaurant on the Plaza does many other things right, so the beverage did not ruin my experience today. It will not prevent me from going there in the future. But, I would not bet the same in all circumstances.

I would bet the message to customers at most organizations is, "We deliver close enough."

If your motto is not "close enough", listen to your customers. Talk, ask, listen, hear. Pay attention and listen some more. If you have not asked your customers about their experiences in a real way to enable them to share honestly and to enable you to hear them, your motto might be "close enough" whether you like it or not.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How you can ace Georgetown University’s challenge

Okay, so most of our SAT scores would not prompt Georgetown to offer us scholarships. Maybe we wouldn’t coast through with straight A’s. But, there is one challenge Georgetown just issued that everyone could ace. I think we all can do it.

In the usual rush through our day, we walk by people without noticing them. In fact, we might even have conversations without really noticing people. Think about the store clerk, coffee shop barista, or copy center employee. How often do you have time to truly pay attention to those folks? If your mind is focused on your day, it might naturally cause you to overlook people, assuming their minds are just as pre-occupied. There is no negative intention, and probably no rudeness either.

All In strategy #3 is Notice Others. Stop letting what’s on your mind cause you to overlook others. One business student at Georgetown did just that. Mr. Bellamy and Mr. Batchelor both have nightly routines at Georgetown’s library. Mr. Bellamy studies at the library, and Mr. Batchelor cleans it. One recent evening, Mr. Bellamy stuck up a conversation and what an All In experience happened after that.

It turned out, the janitor had similar ambitions as the business student. The janitor makes great curry chicken and wanted to open a business. The business student used his skills to help his new friend get started. Now, Mr. Batchelor’s chicken is famous on campus and he is on his way to operating a successful business.

The story doesn’t stop there, however. Here's what happened at Georgetown:

Mr. Bellamy noticed even more people on campus—cashiers, cooks, cleaning staff, and more. He and his friends started listening to the stories of the people working on their campus, and they began to help some of them. One man is going to visit his family in South Sudan for the first time in 45 years, thanks to help from the Georgetown community.

Georgetown formalized the effort to create more opportunities for connections between staff and students, and they call it Unsung Heroes.

Georgetown is All In! They have habit #3 down! Their students issued a challenge for the rest of us. They challenge us to notice unsung heroes in our own lives. Are you in?

Can you slow down enough to pay attention to the people you come in contact with each day? Notice them, talk to them, listen and learn from them. Can you establish an Unsung Heroes connection program at your school or workplace? Maybe we all cannot beat Georgetown student’s SAT scores, but we can join them in living All In by noticing others.

(Source: Washington Post 10/13/2016)