By CEO Jeff Pitta
I have recently experienced a tough season in my personal and professional life. One that has taught me some hard leadership lessons. For one, why being thankful and sharing my appreciation with others is critical. My personal challenges reminded me of why expressing gratitude is so hard. I have to confess that what I know in my mind and what I practice in my daily routine don’t always line up. It’s not that I forget to line up my heart with my mind.
I know that sharing a genuine appreciation for others is good for the soul, my family relationships, and work environment. Showing gratitude to others has been good for the financial growth of my companies, too. Sometimes work, doing life and meeting deadlines get in the way. Right?
Expressing appreciation and gratitude should be the foremost thing on my mind in both my personal and professional life. I don’t think of myself as uncaring. I don’t think of myself as a heartless-headstrong-high-achiever. Well, part of that is true…the high-achiever part. I do believe that my heart is in the right place. I believe in my mind the right thing to do is to thank those responsible for getting me where I am today. But the truth is, I’m hard-wired is to want more. I want more to show that my ideas and vision are actually working. I constantly hear the voices say, “Keep going, don’t stop. Don’t slow down.”
Some may interpret this strong drive as selfish or a bit arrogant. For those closest to me, it may seem like a constant whirlwind of activities. This whirlwind is no excuse for not taking time to thank those that need to hear it the most. My family and team members don’t hear the kind words of gratitude enough from me. I know I need to find appropriate ways of syncing up my heart and mind.
I recently experienced an extra tough week at home and work. Oh, on a good week it can be full of challenges, but this particular week had an extra dose of toughness. I got sick. My kids got sick. My wife got sick. I was trying to work from home and be a good dad too. While recovering at home, I got word from the office that a couple of my pet projects hit a major detour. Getting gratitude on my radar wasn’t going to be easy. I honestly wasn’t thinking about gratitude at all.
This budget year depended on these projects getting green lights for a clean take-off and safe landing. Not so much. Pretty much a major crash and burn. It felt like my home and work life were crumbling right around me. We’ve all been there, right?
As that recent week from hell came to a close, I found myself headed to the park to get my kids out of the house. And quite frankly, this day-trip felt like work at first. Get the kids dressed. Throw together some snacks and grape-juice-boxes. Load up the car seats. Fuel up the family hauler. Listening to the kids fight over something silly. Forgetting to pack a favorite snack. Oh, the pleasure of being a dad. You get it, right? As I shifted into dad mode and began paying attention to their needs, the dense fog of oppression began to lift. Somewhere down the trail, as my children reached up and wrapped their little hands in mine, I began to really focus on what mattered most. I began to reflect on the current challenges and realized that my state of affairs were only pipe dreams a few short years before.
I was so focused on recent detours in my business life, that I had almost forgotten what it felt like in the early days of my career. Heck, if I had a sales-lead to follow up with, I was a happy camper. When you start with nothing it’s easy to be grateful for the small things.
When you begin your professional life with meager rewards, they all seem important. I clearly had lost focus of those early lessons. I was so focused on the hick-ups with business plans that I could never have imagined even getting close to a few years ago — I almost forgot why we got there to begin with – the team.
“Oh, we got to second-base with one business plan; and third-base with a second project. We just left men on base at the end of the inning. I’m not gonna lie, the sting of losing hurts. I don’t like to lose. I believe we have a winning team. We have a team that will not give up. This season we just didn’t reach all of our goals.”
But there will be another season and believe me, I plan getting there with the same team. A team that I appreciate very much. This recent experience has reminded me that in order for us to be successful and grow as an organization, gratitude and appreciation need to be at the forefront of our organization each and every day. One thing is very clear: I need to share how much I appreciate everyone’s efforts. If I focus on the positive things and express gratitude, we will continue to produce positive results.
By Jeff Pitta, CEO & Founder