Thank you all for subscribing and for your feedback. My content creation efforts would be demotivating if it weren't for you. Everyone starts out shouting into a void. I did for almost a year on Twitter. It is very depressing.
When I express gratitude, it is sincere. I remember what it was like before you, and I do not want to go back to that. You being here is a choice. I want to earn that choice and the attention you give every week. I appreciate you because I know this isn't something I am entitled to.
This post is about leadership, and I will take a long road to get there. Leadership starts with our mindset and grows with our vision. Leaders make it harder to decide to quit than to keep improving.
Every mindset and vision has an origin story. Mine comes from failures forcing gratitude and the words "Thank you" have kept me going. I start every Monday, returning to appreciation.
I used to take "Thank you" for granted and said it thoughtlessly. Excess gratitude reduces the value of every "Thank you." Now, I apply those words intentionally, so they have the weight of genuine appreciation for people who I owe it to.
The oddest words of appreciation came from someone I played football with. It spawned jokes for months afterward. We had won a big game, and he was emotional because it was his last before graduation. Coach and I were standing next to him when he said, "I would like to thank my mother and father and the sport of football because if it wasn't for football, I wouldn't be in football today."
In the emotion of the moment, I felt the sentiment while at the same time thinking that it could be the dumbest thing anyone had ever said out loud. Coach and I gave each other a side-eye to make sure we kept from laughing.
Apparently, thanking the sport of football wasn't uncommon. Before, there had been comedians who had mocked that comment, and my QB's remarks spawned another wave of jokes. It aired for 10 seconds on local Hawaiian news channels and somehow was seen by a massive audience before the internet made virality possible.
My dumb gratitude moment came in 2001. My first business did not survive that recession. I managed to sell my customer list, but the business itself folded, and I had to shut it down. Filing that and starting to look for a permanent, full time job was the most disheartening thing I had done at that point in my life. I felt the failure like a weight that would never leave. I thought it would follow me on my resume forever.
I stepped outside the next morning and felt the sun on my face. I thanked the sun for a pleasant moment amid everything. Looking back at it now, I was actually thankful that I was still here. I had been through a tough day and made it to another. My business world had ended, and I was still here. The sun still came up, which reminded me of how small everything I was afraid of really was.
I had another dumb gratitude moment while I was being treated for insomnia. My psychiatrist was trying to get the medication balance correct. Every time a change was made, we didn't know how I would respond. Changes were made month to month.
I had a terrible November and spent 3 days housebound. I couldn't do anything except binge-watch a really stupid television series. I got through 6 seasons in 3 days. Once the show was over, I called my psychiatrist, and we made a quick adjustment to get me into a better place. I was thankful for that stupid TV show keeping my mind occupied with something other than how I felt.
I realized that I needed something more substantial for the hard times. I had routines for work, eating, exercise, entertainment, etc. My mind required a routine. Monday is my day for gratitude. It started as being thankful for my customers and employers. I quickly expanded it to thanks for all I had.
Thanks, requires me to step outside of myself. By thanking people, my success and failure are put into perspective. Gratitude forces me to put aside my problems. The final step to my current Monday is making gratitude tangible. If I owe thanks, I also owe a return. I should earn what people put into me.
Mondays are for gratitude and thinking about how I can do something more than just say the words.
Weird things happen on Tuesdays. That has been a constant in my life, so I am thankful for myself on Tuesdays. I appreciate all the things I have done to keep me going and support the most important people around me. I made it to another Tuesday, and I owe myself a pat on the back.
Internal motivation is essential, but it only works if we are internally rewarded as well. Relying on others to thank you and reward your hard work is a short path to falling back into being externally motivated. I choose my work, define my outcomes, and reward myself for success. Internal motivation is a cycle that starts and ends with the individual.
Wednesdays are a midpoint. Monday and Tuesday could have been good, great, bad, or terrible. None of that matters on Wednesday. I have the majority of the week left. On Wednesday, I look at the traits that defined me in the last two days and decide what traits I want to define me for the rest of the week.
Through my actions, I choose the traits that define me. What I do is my authentic brand and impact. I have a choice every day, and on Wednesday, I think about my choices and reset as needed.
I start Thursdays thinking about my impacts and outcomes. Has my work been aligned with my strategy? Is my strategy still the best one possible to achieve my goals? Are my goals still the ones I am dedicated to? I challenge myself to find a better way to achieve my goals and deliver the outcomes others expect from me.
Friday is for preparation. There's another week right around the corner. What can I do now to set myself up to be successful next week? I need to show up on Monday ready and in a better position than I was this last Monday. Knowing how the week plays out, what would I have done differently to prepare?
Saturday, I reflect on what worked and what didn't. I am away from work, so I have a bit of perspective. Saturdays are for honest introspection about success and failure. I think about what caused my successes and failures. I look for ways to amplify successful behaviors and fix unsuccessful behaviors.
Sunday is my ideas day. I don't work. I just write down thoughts as they come to me. There's no purpose or objective. I have a notebook full of ideas to look through when my mind goes dry. Sundays are a creativity bank for when ideas just aren't coming on their own.
External gratitude and rewards. Internal gratitude and rewards. Choosing the characteristics that define me. Choosing the impacts and outcomes I deliver. Preparing to be better next week. Amplifying and improving my behaviors. Banking creativity forward.
It can all be falling apart, but my mind's routine will hold it together. The thoughts of my mind are an intentional choice, and my mental habits create continuity. It's easy when things are good, but the routine is really there for when things are bad. I can fall into my habits and make forward progress.
Leaders are not paid for leading when everything is easy. We get paid to lead when things are hard. That's where leaders find themselves now. Change brings uncertainty, and we are in changing times now. This is where we find out who the real leaders are.
Many leaders are falling apart. There is pressure on them to produce, and they are being held to harder deliverables now that growth is getting harder to find. Many leaders have never been through a downturn. Their reaction is to lead through control mechanisms. They lash out when they feel like someone is challenging their control or doesn't meet their standards.
Leaders need a mindset to fall back on and a mental routine. When I coach C-level mentees, I share mine, and we go through the exercise of building theirs. All leaders must have a growth mindset. It takes work to develop, but that's the apparent piece. Leaders overlook the routine.
It isn't just for the leader. Following someone with a mental routine translates into following that mental routine. This is part of my leadership secret sauce for building a cohesive team who are stable even when everything around us isn't.
I give external gratitude every Monday. My team says thank you more often on Mondays too.
We all pat ourselves on the back every Tuesday and do something to reward ourselves. I started it by saying it out loud. I achieved this last week and made it through another Monday. I deserve a milkshake at lunch, or I think I'll play some video games after work.
We talk about defining characteristics on Wednesday, and it's a good time for me to give everyone individual feedback. They start imitating that practice, and I get a lot of good feedback on Wednesdays.
I talk about progress and efficiency on Thursdays. We have group conversations about outcomes and how well we feel like everything is lined up.
Friday, I talk about the coming week and ask, "Are we ready for this or set up to succeed with that?" I tell everyone that it's easy to focus on the weekend and put ourselves in the hole on Monday. Then instead of enjoying the weekend, we spend the whole time worried about Monday.
It adds minimal value when everything is good. It becomes a sanctuary when things are not so good. My team doesn't have to think about what's wrong. They have an alternative. They can focus on the day's theme and find comfort in a familiar routine. Every theme is something they can control. Themes guide learning, introspection, and continuous improvement.
Finding things to be thankful for can be challenging. I've asked about wins and gotten crickets. I ask, "Whose laptop lit itself on fire when you started it? No one? Well, at least our laptops still believe in us."
The routine is focused on building a better tomorrow and looking backward with gratitude. My leadership vision is, 'Tomorrow can be better, and we make that happen today. We made it here, so there must be something to appreciate. We owe gratitude to ourselves and others.'
We are all here today, and that's enough to have something worth being thankful for. We have a chance to improve, and that's also worth being thankful for. We must find comfort in focusing on fixing one thing today. Even if it's small, we still come back tomorrow in a better situation than today. Fixing something every day this week will give us more to be thankful for next Monday and more to reward ourselves for on Tuesday.
In a month, the team looks back at an unrecognizable time. They've gotten through it together. Teams are built during hard times when they must look to each other and be there for each other.
I would like to thank one small success because if it wasn't for success, we wouldn't be successful today. I don't care if all we did was sharpen a pencil today. I can build something better from a sharp pencil. I can build a team around going from a sharp pencil to a product. Frame that pencil.