Are you busy going nowhere?


On the eve of a strategy offsite session with a senior leadership team it became clear that they were more than a little reluctant to be there. Everyone was already stretched to the limit, so the proposed discussion the next day of a bigger new strategy was a daunting prospect.

We realised that they had never actually been acknowledged for the great job they had done delivering on the strategy to date. After dinner, Terry* the CEO went around the room and acknowledged each member of the leadership team for the work they had done in getting the organisation to the significant point they were at now.

He chose a few things that each person had contributed to the organisation’s overall success. He thanked them for their values, their determination, their contribution to others, their ‘can do’ approach. He acknowledged a unique contribution that each person had made. 

His acknowledgement made a huge difference. So much so, that the next morning they came to the strategy session eager to create what was next.

It was a salutary reminder of the power of acknowledgement and appreciation.

Their renewed frame of mind is perhaps explained by this quote from Martin Seligman, the doyen of the positive psychology movement. He said, “Past successes make us feel more confident and optimistic about future attempts.”

I am sure you have come across busy people who are accomplishing a lot, but who never seem to be satisfied or fulfilled. They are busy going nowhere, or so it seems to them.

They may be reluctant to consider a new game-changing strategy because they are already stretched. They may tell you that there is no time to stop and acknowledge their good work because we are “not done yet.”  

Satisfaction and acknowledgement go hand in hand. If you are playing a big game, you are never done. However, acknowledging your accomplishments along the way will give you and your team a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.

It is all too easy to be anxious about the gap between what we have accomplished and where we want to be. Focusing only on that gap can rob us of the satisfaction and fulfilment that comes with making meaningful progress.

A good place to start is to acknowledge two or three things that you have accomplished today. The practice can be extended to weekly, quarterly and yearly milestones.

As Terry found with his team, a little acknowledgement goes a long way.

What are two or three things that you are proud of having accomplished today?

And who could you acknowledge for their great work?

Best regards, Brian

*Name changed to protect the innocent

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