We have plenty of reasons to complain. High unemployment, a frozen political system, an economy still struggling to get out of recession. Let's focus on the good stuff instead.
As CEOs, we often spend a good part of our day coiled up in the fetal position under our desk trying to figure out what to do (or at least thinking about it). The challenges can seem overwhelming at times: We’re trying to grow our organization in an uncertain time, we’re trying to retain our people, and we’re trying not to have to lower our prices to keep our customers.
Add it all up, and you can get overwhelmed. You’re probably asking, “What should I do first?” My suggestion: Let’s celebrate. Let me explain.
Tough times make us stronger and people who fight through challenges together stay together. Those companies best prepared to weather the storms are those that make decisions based on a set of core values that remain constant no matter what else in the business changes. This is the glue that keeps employees connected to the longer-term vision as opposed to the short-term challenges.
It is naturally easier to complain, but our employees need us to be positive and supportive about our future. We spend a disproportionate time talking about things that are going wrong, instead of recognizing and talking about what is going right.
So let’s take time to celebrate the good things that happen in our businesses and with our people. Here’s a few ways to do it:
Make a “good stuff” file: Just like all of culture starts at the top, feeling positive does as well. Amongst the great challenges of running a business, there are always moments of pride and we need to cherish them. A number of years ago, a friend told me to make a file (or email folder) of all of the great messages I get from employees who tell me how our unique business approach has impacted their lives in a positive way. On a down day, I just read through a few of those messages and I immediately feel better.
Say, “Thank you”: It’s not about the money. Our employees just want to feel valued. Take the time to thank individuals for the contributions they are making to our success. A handwritten notecard to employees’ homes is the greatest tool and it takes about 45 seconds.
Be optimistic: Most people don’t want to work with whiners or complainers, let alone work for one. As leaders, we have an obligation to be positive in our approach to challenges, and that attitude will be infectious. Remember, at least half of the culture of a business is a personal reflection of the leader.
Smile: This is something my mom always had to remind me to do. To this day, when I tell her I did a speaking engagement, she’ll ask me if I smiled. If you have kids, is there a better emotion than a smile? Same goes for employees, suppliers, and customers. If you create smiles, you’ve done your job.
Take this opportunity to remind all of those in your influence that there are many reasons to be thankful, and while it’s sometimes easier to complain, most people are trying really hard to be happy.