How often do you see a practice you love and teach taken to a whole other level? Or two or even three?
Sometimes practices fit together so well to become so much more than the sum of their parts, you almost can't believe them. But you have to practice and share them.
I'll explain and show you how you can broaden and deepen your network, and enjoy yourself while doing it, combining three simple ideas that regular readers of mine already know.
Let's look at the ideas and at Joshua Spodek--my fellow Inc. columnist who teaches leadership and entrepreneurship at NYU and online through his own Spodek Academy--who showed me what you get when you combine them.
The first is gratitude. Chapter 39 in my most recent book, The Art of People, covers gratitude, and how it literally makes me high I feel so good (here's an excerpt). I've blogged about the value of gratitude and my favorite one-minute trick to improve your mood any time.
The second is accountability, especially for SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals. I've blogged about how using accountability buddies for SMART goals gets things done--ranging from hundred person projects to my losing 50 pounds (!)
The third is action--in particular FAST (First Action Steps to Take) action. Every chapter in my books and many of my posts give FAST things to do. That's how you grow and change.
What Joshua Spodek Did
My one-minute gratitude trick and Art of People chapter describe ways to use gratitude in the moment. They're just the trick when you're walking into a big meeting or preparing to call an important client to make you feel confident, comfortable, and happy.
Where I went fast, personal, and effective, Joshua went big, public, and equally effective.
Beyond just thinking of people he felt grateful to and writing them down, he wrote an email to every single one of them, personalized. Ten per day for a week.
He wrote about his experience in "I Wrote 70 Gratitude Emails. Here Are My Awesome Results."
His results are awesome. I won't steal his thunder because you should read his article, but look at the genuine feeling he got back:
"I didn't expect to read this. Thanks. I enjoyed reading it.
It would take a while to write everything I'm grateful for since there are many details.
I'm grateful that you've been a great friend for several years too. Your leadership, genuine self, experience, patience, dedication, passion, discipline, and integrity inspire me. I appreciate your openness that lead to feeling vulnerable. Thank you for helping me explore, discover, and revisit parts of my life. I'm grateful you've been a part of my growth and discovery.
My life transformed after my senior year. Meeting you is up there and life looks different and new every time like a prism.
I'd love to know how the exercise goes."
Who wouldn't want to get emails like that!
His genuine expression of gratitude created genuine expression of gratitude from others. That's leadership.
As Joshua wrote, "If you want to hear such things from people close to you, do this exercise!"
How the Exercise Works
Joshua's exercise starts like my one-minute trick by making you feel grateful. Then it adds accountability and is SMART because you have to express your gratitude.
I guarantee you'll feel vulnerable to be so open. That's the point. When people you care about can judge you, you have to be authentic.
Finally, it makes you act. When you act, you get things done. In this case, you practice skills that make you likeable.
Breadth and Depth
You might see how the exercise deepens relationships.But I said it would broaden them, too.
Joshua's article got a lot of views. Talking about it and his upcoming book, Leadership Step by Step, at Inc. led an editor, Cameron Albert-Deitch, to introduce us. So the exercise got us to meet.
Now here's where it gets interesting and you'll see how incredibly gratitude works its magic.
When I read his article, I saw the person he learned the exercise from: my friend Joe Polish, who runs the Genius Network (with members like Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and Arianna Huffington) and whom I wrote about in my Inc. article, "5 Strategies for Quickly Building an Influential Network."
When he read my book, he saw one of my sources of gratitude:
Srikumar Rao, "the happiness" guru, author, and Columbia Business School professor, has written about the joy of having gratitude thoughts each night before going to bed.
Professor Rao was Joshua's professor at Columbia Business School!
Joshua even alluded to him in his article when he wrote, "writing down three things or people to be grateful for before sleeping was the first [gratitude exercise] I learned."
How's that for depth and breadth? Now, Joshua, Srikumar, Cameron, Joe, and I have a shared experience. One exercise turned five scattered acquaintances into a tight circle.
It came from gratitude, accountability, and action that you can do.
FAST First Action Steps to Take:
1. Think of 70 people you feel grateful to.
2. Write notes to ten of them per day for a week an authentic, genuine expression of gratitude.
3. Follow up on the relationships and enjoy!