Taken For Granted

image good jobI got up this morning and realized that we had “sprung ahead” and it was now one hour later than I assumed. I began the arduous task of trying to change every single clock in the house. I went downstairs to eat my breakfast and noticed that the dishwasher had run out of any extra space. It was filled haphazardly and completely jam-packed. Accepting that I needed to run it, I sighed and finally pulled out the detergent, starting it up. Of course, I thought. There’s always one more thing for me to do when I’m feeling so tired!


I went to throw something in the trash and realized that it was full and needed to be taken out. I still had clothes in the dryer and another hamper full of whites to go. I began to feel overwhelmed with the number of responsibilities on my list.


And then I stopped and reflected on my situation. These were all the responsibilities that my husband usually takes care of on a consistent basis and he had been gone for the last 6 days.


These tasks usually just get completed and I don’t even have to think about it.


Is it possible that I don’t realize how good I have it? Maybe I don’t tell him enough how much I appreciate everything he does?


It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a situation with our family, friends or in the workplace. It’s all the same. An article by Tony Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review illustrates this feeling perfectly: A worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson revealed that engagement in the workplace is driven by whether or not workers feel that their managers are genuinely interested in their well being and also whether they feel appreciated for their work. The study revealed that 40% of workers today felt engaged.


So why is it so difficult for us to show gratitude and appreciation for others in the workplace and at home? Whether we like it or not, we easily fall into the pattern of taking things for granted.


So how can we change this negative habit?


The first step lies in acknowledging your own actions.

Make a pact to see the world through new eyes. Take a step back at work and at home, really paying attention to what is going on around you. See all the little things that somehow get completed without you realizing it. The truth is that you can get so caught up in your own agendas, responsibilities, and issues that you can miss what’s right in front you. Do an inventory of where you might need to improve your appreciation skills.


Showing appreciation gets easier the more you do it.

You know how the more you workout the stronger you get? The stronger you get, the easier exercising becomes. Showing gratitude for others is the same— it’s a muscle that you need to exercise on a regular basis. If you continue to say “thank you” and show appreciation for others, the easier and more routine it becomes in your life. It’s a habit like everything else.


Say thank you when they least expect it

I don’t believe in Hallmark holidays like Sweetest Day or Administrative Assistant day. In my opinion, this just seems like a forced appreciation day. It doesn’t feel genuine. If you really want to show your appreciation, demonstrate your gratitude when they least expect it. Do it on a consistent basis when it is deserved. This is when it will mean the most.


I encourage you to start your new appreciation efforts today. Look around and say “thank you” to someone that makes your life easier, without expecting anything in return.


Roadblocks to Productivity

<a href="https://i2.wp.com/sharigoldsmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/images-roadblock.jpg" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'https://i1.wp redirected here.com/sharigoldsmith.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/images-roadblock.jpg?resize=139%2C98′, ”);”>images roadblock


Feeling stressed, over stimulated, overworked and just plain tired? In today’s world, we all have numerous responsibilities and tasks that fill up our days. At times, it feels as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything.


But maybe it’s not a time management problem.


Maybe the issue isn’t how many hours you have in a day to get all your responsibilities completed. Maybe the problem requires you to step back and get a new perspective on what’s REALLY blocking you from living a productive life.


You clutter your life with tasks and responsibilities that just aren’t important anymore. At one point, they were important to you. However, your life has evolved and over time, you’ve added new responsibilities that are more vital to your current life. However, you haven’t taken the time to let go of the old to make room for the new. It’s possible that you’re trying to accomplish a daily weekly list that is not relevant to your life NOW. Step back and take a fresh look at your life. Do each one of these tasks and responsibilities lead to your overall short-term and long-term goals? Maybe you need to do some purging and throw out what’s standing in the way of your goals.


You have trouble prioritizing and looking at things objectively.

Last week, I was having a conversation with my husband. He informed me that he had way too much to accomplish on his daily list. He had some extremely important paperwork and also had to pick up all the leaves in the yard. He was on his way out to clean up the yard, which I knew would take hours. I stopped him and asked how the leaves could possibly be as important as his required work. Yes, the leaves had to get done, but they could wait another week. The work was much more important. Sometimes, everything seems important in our heads and we have difficulty assessing what truly is priority for that particular day.


Being busy does not mean we are being productive.

There’s a big difference and in order to be truly successful at work, you need to be clear on the difference. You can fill your days with all kinds of activities that get you not even in close proximity to your life goals. Sure, it makes you feel good but it masks the truth. It doesn’t address the fact that without the right kind of activity you’re not going to succeed in your ultimate goal. You’re just fooling yourself into believing that you’re making progress. Be strategic in your daily, weekly tasks and monthly to-do lists.


We feel good about working non-stop but eventually, this backfires.

I know plenty of people that eat lunch at their desk so they can get more done at work. Smart, right? WRONG! Numerous studies have proven that it’s impossible to work at peak performance for long periods of time. Yes, you’re working, but you’re not working at full capacity. Sitting too long depletes your brain of oxygen and glucose. The good news is that a walk around the block or even through the building will reenergize you so you can be much more productive. Take breaks regularly that don’t involve your computer or phone.


We get lost in the hidden expectations and beliefs that we attach to our responsibilities.

Take a good look at your responsibilities and do a self-check. Are you holding on to any unrealistic or unhealthy expectations that you need to let go? For example, a belief that “I must join every committee and attend every event associated with my company in order to be successful” will eventually drive you crazy. Sure, it will make you busy, but does it truly lead to real success? Decide whether your expectations of self are fair and accurate.


With a few tweaks, you can live a successful, productive life.






I had just taken my seat at the IMAX theatre to see the movie. My friend was visiting from out of town and we decided that this was the perfect thing to do on a cold day. Apparently, so did everyone else in our city— the place was packed and as the people piled in, it became obvious that we were going to run out of seats.


Eventually, one of the employees asked if everyone could move to the middle so they could make room for the people still being seated. Quickly, my friend and I stood up and moved one more seat to my left. We sat down and continued to enjoy our time talking. Suddenly, we overheard the women to my friend’s right begin to complain.


“That isn’t fair— why do we need to move when we got here early and they didn’t?” My friend and I heard this and smiled at each other. Five minutes later, she went on. “Why should I be punished for getting to the theatre on time? I shouldn’t have to move and be made uncomfortable!” I whispered to my friend that some people are never happy and she smiled back.


I finally took a good look at the woman who could only view her world half-empty. The reality was that moving over one seat actually improved her visual experience. She truly had a better seat now. However, she couldn’t see that. She couldn’t see anything but misery.


People can focus on the smallest things in life and become unhappy. However, when they take these attitudes to work with them, it becomes everyone’s problem.


Steffanie Wilk, an associate professor at Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, studied employee mood and it’s impact on job performance. In the study, she asked telephone customer service representatives from a Fortune 500 company to record their moods during various times of the day over a three week period. They took into account the impact of individual temperament and the moods of their customers. The results proved that when beginning their day, the employee’s mood influenced their mood for the rest of the shift.


It should be no surprise to hear that employees that were happy at the beginning of the day generally stayed that way throughout their day. They responded more positively to their interactions with customers, which resulted in better customer service. Those that came to work miserable tended to continue to feel worse as the day wore on. The important point to glean from this study is that these negative mood shifts resulted in more than a 10% decline in employee productivity.


If you do the math, you can see the implications for revenue loss for any organization. Companies, big or small, can’t afford to have chronic negative employees on their team. Now imagine what happens when the negative employee spreads their bad attitude to the people around them. It’s like an infectious disease that can destroy the culture, productivity and in turn, the profitability of any organization.


Now, back to my miserable friend at the movie theatre. Hopefully, she will change her ways. Maybe it was a one-time thing and I just hit her on the wrong day. But in all probability, she goes to work somewhere every day with this same perspective on life and infects her co-workers with this attitude.


I hope that’s not the case.

Planting Seeds



I was having a conversation with my son the other day. He was getting me up to speed on what was happening in his fairly new management position. He’s been at this job for about 3 months now, so he’s beginning to feel more comfortable with the routine.  This is a far cry from where he was about 3 months ago, when he was so stressed and anxious that he didn’t know what to tackle first.  So much had been neglected for so long that he had difficulty trying to prioritize— everything needed to be done yesterday.


About one month ago, he called to get my advice on a situation at work and stated, “managing people is really hard work”.  Yes, it’s hard work and can give you a lot of headaches, but it can also be very rewarding.  He’s already had his first hire, his first fire and his first walk out.  Each one of those was difficult but he survived the experience and learned greatly.


Now, back to his current situation at work. The owner was in town for a week to check up on the office and make sure things were going well.  With the owner present, one of the workers walked in abruptly and aggressively demanded a raise that she felt was well deserved. She believed that she was doing more work than any other worker. Her delivery was devoid of any finesse and her timing was inappropriate. This employee felt that she had the upper hand because of the recent high turnover.  What came next in the exchange surprised me.


My son responded calmly and assertively that her approach was ineffective for this situation.  He explained to her that if she truly wanted to receive a raise, she was not going to get one by coming across in a threatening, offensive manner. Then, he explained to her the appropriate way to receive what she wanted in the workplace.  He also explained to her what he would need to see in order for her to receive her desired raise.


He shared with me that he certainly didn’t make her happy. Frankly, I know that was hard for him. I reassured him that he had handled the management situation like a pro— way beyond his experience level.


Let’s be honest here.  The easy solution to this problem was to give this employee what she wanted. He could have given her the money that would satisfy her— for now.  However, that wasn’t the right thing to do.  That would have been a short-term decision to help him get through the next couple weeks. Chances are strong that that decision would have come back to haunt him in the not so distant future.


It takes a lot of strength to do what’s right in our careers, not to mention our personal life too.  Making decisions today based on our long-term goals instead of what’s easier is hard work. However, the willpower to stay the course is truly the key to success.  It’s also one of the most important traits of a strong leader.


Make sure that you’re planting the seeds of success in your career, your family, and your relationships by developing this essential muscle.