As our five-year-old son prepares to enter kindergarten this year, I’m reminded of a classic book highlighting life’s basic principles: All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.

We’re trying to mold his values and character and the more I think about it the more these lessons apply beyond our family life and crossover into our business lives.  What we’re teaching him at 5 is just as applicable at 35, 55, and beyond.

I’ll share a personal story. One of Cole’s household chores is to put away his own laundry. Sometimes this requires some gentle nudging, a lot of repeating, honestly sometimes even raising my voice.  Yesterday, as if it were a miracle he picked up his laundry without being asked and brought it upstairs.  I paused. I placed my hands on his shoulders, looked him right in the eye and said “Do you know how grateful I am for what you’ve done?” “Done what, mama?”  “Cole you made me so happy – just look at my smile.”  He ran downstairs and said “Dad!  Put away your clothes, it’ll make mom really, really happy!” Then he asked for a dollar…Well, not bad. I got close but not quite.

I’m sure you can identify professional scenarios where the same is true.  While a bonus is fun and cash is easy to hand out, public recognition or an unexpected token gift with a note of sincere thanks may have more impact.  I find the simplest gestures are remembered most by our team members.  When you value and encourage gratitude, you’ll soon see the appreciative gestures reciprocated through the ranks until it builds momentum and creates a whole culture of gratefulness and acknowledgement. Recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember psychology 101: behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.

Execute the long-standing principle from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People: give honest and genuine appreciation. Take your praise beyond your office walls and share your admiration for your clients, your favorite vendors or service providers.  Don’t wait until the traditional holiday client appreciation gift when they’re inundated with token gifts; thank them often.  Electronic media outlets let us share our thoughts with the world.  When someone goes above and beyond, write meaningful recommendations for them on LinkedIn or Angie’s List.  Your unsolicited endorsement is priceless.

You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.

― Zig Ziglar


Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

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