My team deserved better than what I was about to present them.
No, I’m not referring to presenting a power point on EcSell strategy or a keynote presentation on how coaching impacts team performance and growth. To arrive at work without presenting MY BEST SELF is cheating them and creating unproductive, subconscious growth limiting behaviors in me.
Grumpy, short and impatient are just a few words to describe how I felt last Monday morning. The reason these feels existed may be insignificant but am pleased to have learned to identify them and be present enough to acknowledge when they exist. Some time ago I learned how emotions affect behavior (not just in me, but in everyone) and bringing to the office the behavior attached to the emotions I was feeling wouldn’t advance our work, nor would it have a positive impact on anyone’s day.
“Too busy” is what I told myself after returning from a week away. The impact of my ritualistic morning mental exercise has had critical effect on how I feel, but I was falling back on the most common growth limiting excuse. Too busy was my excuse for not closing my eyes and adding three gratitudes to my list. For almost three years I have been doing this exercise five mornings/week and the impact has been profound.
Why do I do this?
To ensure growth always occurs. My personal objective the last three years has been to first focus on growing my mind-set as opposed to a professional skill-set (which is where my primary energy and attention had been for 25 years). My obsession with growth makes me keenly aware of how I am evolving, and I eventually hit a point where it felt as though I had plateaued in multiple areas of my life. Too much Order had created stagnation; physically, spiritually and mentally.
What are examples of gratitudes?
Something that evokes a positive emotion, such as happiness, contentment or love. Sometimes I can list three in a couple minutes and other times it takes 15 minutes, but I rarely miss a weekday morning. Next is the fun part; I go back to a page of gratitudes created from a previous week/month/year and read the entire page, and what happens next is magical--I find myself attaching an emotion to the written gratitude, and I smile. As I continue to read, I likely smile again, and frequently the emotion is so intense I make a visceral noise like a groan or grunt when reading them.
Below is an example of three gratitudes listed this week.
- Getting in a warm car when cold outside
- Seeing the moon
- The feel of Aspen’s head when it is rested on my leg
What does this exercise do for me?
When done, regardless of how I feel when I start, I feel happy, confident and calm (this is not the only morning exercise I utilize to create mental resiliency and happiness but it’s what I’ll share for now). And if you are skeptical of how something so simple can create such long-term mental resiliency and growth, I don’t know how to answer, but it works.
My friends and colleagues, Sport Psychiatrist, Dr. Larry Widman, and former Navy Seal Commander, Jack Riggins, recommend this exercise in their respective fields to create a more resilient mind-set among athletes and executives. Personally, I am hooked.
When is the best time and how should I do it? Three steps:
1. Do it first thing in the morning before anyone/anything begins to disrupt your day. I visit a coffee shop every morning for quiet work time and this is done first thing.
2. Keep a running word document or something similar, open it, close your eyes and list three gratitudes that evoke an emotion/feel that is unique to you.
3. Go back and read previously listed gratitudes—don’t skip this part.
Thanksgiving is the obvious reminder to be grateful for all we have but my recommendation is to use this holiday as a reason to create a new habit of gratefulness. Make gratitudes a daily thing, not just a once a year thing. Your team deserves it. Your family deserves it. Your clients deserve it. You deserve it.