A daily habit of successful people that we all need more of

Charles Schwab was one of the first people in the US to make over a million dollars a year (when that was an exceptionally large amount of cash).

At just 38, Schwab was chosen to be the president of the United States Steel Company, which he subsequently built into one of America’s most profitable companies.

How did Schwab achieve such great success at such a young age?

According to Dale Carnegie’s famous tome, Schwab said:

‘The greatest asset I possess…is my ability to arouse enthusiasm in other people…the way to develop the best in a person is through appreciation and encouragement.

This principle makes sense when you realize just how few people truly feel appreciated in their work.

Underappreciated = underperforming

Here’s a crazy fact:

99% of people from a survey of 2,000 agreed it was important to express and receive gratitude and appreciation at work.

(WTF is wrong with that 1%?).

But the clincher is that only 10% said they act on that impulse on a daily basis.

Because of this bad habit, employees go long stretches of their careers feeling like their boss doesn’t value their work, their colleagues don’t appreciate their skills, and their organization doesn’t recognize their contributions.

Feeling underappreciated is not only bad for employees, it’s bad for business

One MIT study found that people whose work was ignored needed twice as much money to do a job as people whose work was acknowledged.

In other words, appreciation is a very valuable currency.

Appreciating the opportunity

This sad state presents a huge opportunity.

It is a rare and powerful skill to show gratitude for others, highlight their successes, and make them feel like their work is important.

And it’s a relatively simple skill that will pay dividends throughout your career.

So here are two practical tips on how to implement the skill of making people feel valued.

Look for the good stuff

You know how when you buy a red car, you suddenly see red cars everywhere?

If you are looking for reasons to appreciate someone, you will find them.

This is hard, especially when someone’s annoying you. I find it hard to show appreciation for my three year old son Ollie when he’s being really stubborn, won’t sit still, or refuses to wear anything except his batman shirt (which he hasn’t changed in two days).

But sometimes the most annoying parts of people’s personalities are the things that we can be most grateful for (it’s true!).

When I’m in a particularly good mood, it’s easy to re-frame these challenges to:

I love that Ollie is persistent; he has so much energy and enthusiasm for the world; he’s passionate about Batman and doesn’t care about little things like dirt.

And the response from Ollie is always amazing. He loves it.

When you are looking for the good stuff, you’ll find it — even in the bad stuff.

Form a habit

The intention of showing gratitude is meaningless. You need to turn it into action. And our most consistent actions are our habits.

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear sets out steps to forming a new habit. Here are two that will get you started right away.

  1. Start with an incredibly small habit

In this case, you might start with one compliment to a colleague per day, rather than 5. Or a single ‘thank you’ email per week. Basically, you need to ‘make it so easy you can’t say no’.

2. Increase your habit in very small ways

“Rather than trying to do something amazing from the beginning, start small and gradually improve. Along the way, your willpower and motivation will increase, which will make it easier to stick to your habit for good.” — James Clear

There is a natural positive feedback mechanism from this process: showing appreciation makes others feel good, which in turn, makes you feel good.

Wrap up

Almost everyone wants to be appreciated.

Almost nobody shows appreciation regularly.

It’s a relatively simple habit to form, but one that will pay dividends in your career.

And, perhaps even more importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

Show some love, man.




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Sam Duncan

Sam Duncan

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