As we look forward to family, food and a little break from our regularly scheduled programs this week, I find it hard not to shine a light on the benefits of being grateful.
Since most things you read this week will be focused on gratitude, my thoughts leading up to this Tip threw me back to the post-training practice ritual we used for years with our teams.
This is a simple, yet powerful way to end any training session or meeting and send the participants, no matter what their age, off with a shot of positive emotion.
Each day, our practice plan included a “quote of the day.” Each day’s quote was chosen intentionally to fit the time of the season, the goal of the training session, to connect to a current event or to help us see something from a different perspective that would help us move forward. This helped us remember that nothing we experience is new. And like those before us, we can choose to keep moving forward in every circumstance - good and not so good!
Each player, or each class, depending on the year, was to memorize the quote to be recited in our post-practice meeting. This expectation ensured the players reviewed the plan for the day and it put a positive thought in their heads before we even began our work. The quote of the day was also posted on social media sites and we got a bit more mileage out of it that way, too! This was step one in our ritual.
Step two was all about gratitude. Author Jo Miller reminds us that “a culture of GRATITUDE is the most underestimated way to build a strong team.” Gratitude improves physical and mental health. It helps to build stronger social bonds. A gratitude practice is linked to resilience. It reduces stress and makes people more forgiving.
It keeps us present as we look for the good around us NOW. It makes us more optimistic.
Who wouldn’t want this type of team?
The daily question was simple. “What are you grateful for today?”
Everyone had to have something ready because three of them would have to answer, but no one knew who would be called upon. Thus, they were constantly searching for the good stuff to report, just in case. This simple question brought answers that were sometimes very deep and other times seemingly simple. Each answer gave all of us a chance to think about how what was said pertained to our lives, and most times, we found that we, too, were grateful for the same thing – enter serotonin and dopamine – good stuff!
What would you share with your team today?
The third step was born of the desire to get people looking for the good stuff done by others. As Ryan Holiday notes in Ego is The Enemy, so often our ego takes over and we fall into a phenomenon that psychologists call the “imaginary audience.” We think that our every move is being watched with batted breath by everyone around us. We get stuck in our heads instead of noticing what others around us are doing that can help us be better.
This takes me back to the advice my dad gave me years ago and I have used it a million times since. He said, “Jul, no one is thinking of you as much as you think they are too busy worrying about themselves!” This, and his “the ass you’re kicking today may be the one you’re kissing tomorrow” are two of his best nuggets to date 😊!
To help us circumvent the “imaginary audience” phenomenon, we had at least one player comment on what a teammate did well at practice that day. Again, everyone had to have something ready which had each team member searching for the good in their teammates each day. The “what did your teammate do well today?” question got them to stop naval gazing AND it spread goodwill with an “I see you!” comment for their peers.
The last step was as important as the first three in building strong young women – or any strong human. As we know women of all ages are urged by cultural influences to be agreeable. This can lead to a tendency to share information to get everyone on the same page and move toward feeling good, while men often report information to move things forward or enhance their position. The contrast in this sentence alone implies a sort of dominance when we compare “reporting” to “sharing.” Both work. No judgment here. The point is that women need to learn to “report”, too, even though it is not their normal M.O..
To get them to “report”, we moved from acknowledging what others did well to sharing something we did well – personally. This was not bragging. It was stating facts.
My intention was two-fold here:
Look for the good and prime your brain to want more of it.
Talk about the good and learn to share your strengths without guilt.
We wanted to make looking for and celebrating good stuff a habit and make sharing our strengths and highlights normal procedure!
#1. This simple report forced them to search for and take note of what went well for them that day, instead of thinking about the one time out of 10 they made a mistake. It also forced them to put good stuff into words, which became pictures, which helped them relive their success. This added benefit of another “mental rep” also dopamine (the molecule of more) to our brain which primes us to want to do it again!
Reporting also helped them tie emotion to the good. This is important because what we tie to emotion, we remember and relive. When we make a mistake, our emotions are often strong – frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, etc. We feel the mistake and like to relive it (ad nauseam). When we share something we did well, we feel good about it even if we did not acknowledge it in the moment, taking it as “yeah, I did it.”
The telling and reliving as we experience nods of agreement, maybe even an added comment from a teammate, helps the good stick! We spend plenty of time beating ourselves up. This moment of reporting the good stuff isn’t too self-indulgent. It may help build the confidence of those around us, too as they think “that’s right, my teammates are pretty darn good!”
#2. Those who are confident enough to acknowledge and contribute what they do well to the greater good make it better for all of us. To share our strengths, we must first identify them and then be able to articulate them. We set ourselves up for success when we play to our strengths. If we don’t offer them, someone else will jump in front and we will be left to do what is left.
The more we do something, the more confident we become. The more we watch others do it, the more normal it seems. My hope was when the time came for them to tell an employer what separated them from the rest, they share and shine!
The quote, the gratitude, the OUT (Observe Ur Teammates) and the self-report, together are a simple, yet great way to end any training session or meeting.
There is good in every situation. Looking for it makes us better. Sharing it makes the world better!
I am grateful for you, for the time you take to read, watch or listen, for the words of encouragement shared, and for what I continue to learn from so many of the great leaders like you that I am lucky to encounter every day!
Manage the moments with gratitude and empowerment!
P.S. Need a speaker for your next department or team meeting, I’d love to share my enthusiasm for reaching our peak in sports, business and life with your group! Contact me at any time to talk about how we can help your team firing on all cylinders. Email me at email@example.com or call/text 234-206-0946.
Mental Performance Coach
firstname.lastname@example.org • 234-206-0946