My father died February of 2015. In the months after his passing I was numb. My usual cadence of staying fit, and productive at work were the only things that kept me from devolving into a deep depression.
I needed to focus on the positive things in my life to ward off depression. That worked at first, but I eventually found myself sidetracked by negative people around me in my business.
I decided to ask people what they're grateful for in my voice mail. If everyone I encountered would lead with something positive, this would set the tone of our conversations on a positive note. Selfishly helping me manage my overwhelming grief.
In my voicemail, I challenge callers. "If you feel adventurous, tell me what you're grateful for." This is what I've learned:
People love their families.
Without question the thing people are most grateful for is their family. I get it. I also hope that if you're reading this, you take a second to tell your family just how grateful you are for them. Right now. Seriously. Call them, email them, send up a smoke signal. But do it today.
My Father was ill before he passed. I had a great deal of time to tell him how much I loved him, and how grateful I was for him. He also told me.
While discussing a serious medical procedure that could have killed him on the operating table, he said to my brother and myself, "if it all goes wrong, I want you to know that you boys are the lights of my life." I will take those beautiful words to my grave.
Now imagine sharing something like that with a family member when death isn't on the line? Imagine the positive impact it would have on their lives.
Just the act of mentioning gratitude puts people in a better mood.
Recently an executive assistant called me on behalf of her boss. She mentioned to me how grateful she was for her dog. We played some phone tag, and I would mention how excited I was to learn about her puppy in my voicemails to her.
We spent the first 10 minutes of our eventual conversation laughing about her puppy. That's a great way to start any conversation.
Sometimes people completely ignored the call to action. Or tell me they'd be grateful if I called them back. This told me everything I needed to know.
These people don't get called back. If they didn't listen to the whole voice mail, then I don't want to do business with them. If they were too distracted to hear the request, then they don't pay attention to detail.
Or, they're so far removed from the moment, and move through life in a distracted state -- I don't want to do business with them.
A relationship (business or otherwise) will always be stronger if you know what the other person holds in high regard.
Yesterday a young woman left me a voice mail. In her message, she told me she was grateful to speak with a "like minded soul who is bold enough to put something like that in his voicemail." Now she knows what I hold in high regard, and I know the same about her.
I know we will have a wonderful conversation no matter what the outcome. And we've never spoken before.
Wrapping it up.
Since I asked about gratitude in my voicemail, I've learned of new babies, puppies, near death experiences, deep loss, pending nuptials, and serious health scares. I also learned that we're all human, and we're only on this planet for a short period of time.
Gratitude for what you have, right now can be a powerful tool to help move you through your career and life. I encourage you to think deeply about the good things in your life today.
I'm grateful that you read this.