In the spirit of putting together my IPMDay 2015 keynote address focused on the 5th C of Acknowledgment for Grateful Leaders: Courage (“From Cowardly Lion to Lion-Hearted Leader”), I have been thinking a lot about what stops us from doing the brave and inspiring things we want to and are able to do. That would include acknowledging and appreciating our people in a heartfelt, authentic and profound way, even when it makes us feel vulnerable! So I must admit that when I was offered the opportunity the last time I was conducting Grateful Leadership training at Volvo Construction Equipment to drive a massive earth mover, I think I found my schedule to be “just too tight” to accommodate this incredible adventure. But this time, when I was there to co-lead a Grateful Leadership Book Club session with Michelle Madsen, Delivery Specialist, Volvo Group University, I was thinking a lot about overcoming fear or else doing what we want to do that terrifies us … doing it in spite of our fear. So this time I ASKED to drive a massive earth mover! I must have been out of my mind. But the kind and courageous Wade Turlington, Director of Volvo’s Customer Center said, “Of course!” and volunteered to risk his life and limb to sit next to me as I drove. So after the great book club session we had, I mustered up my courage and drove the A35G Articulated Hauler that they provided!!! (My family members will tell you how they feel like THEY are risking life and limb when they drive with me in my normal vehicle). And ooooooooh, that was some wild and crazy ride on that A35G! It was also transformational. If I could do that, I knew I could do virtually anything, since I was taking on the challenge of doing something so out of my normal reach. Okay, so hang gliding is NOT up my alley. But name something else and maybe I will try it. In the meantime, you can overcome YOUR fear, muster up your courage as I did, and deliver heartfelt acknowledgments wherever they are truly deserved. Have a ball doing what terrifies you — it is a heck of a good ride! And my thanks and deepest gratitude to Volvo Construction Equipment for allowing me to do this!!!
Judith W. Umlas proudly poses at Book Expo America with celebrated author, speaker and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate Collage of Social Work, Brené Brown. In all of her Grateful Leadership courses and keynotes, Judy references the ground-breaking working of Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability. Brown was at BEA introducing her new book called Rising Strong – The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.
The jacket of Brown’s new book says, “The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. Rising Strong is a book about what it takes to get back up and how owning our stories of struggle gives us the power to write daring new endings.” This, by the way, is the message of Judy’s upcoming International Project Management Day Keynote address: From Cowardly Lion to Lionhearted Leader. Judy firmly believes that we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable in order to communicate heartfelt, profound and generous acknowledgments to all of our stakeholders who truly deserve them. Only then do people feel really valued and know that they are working in a culture of appreciation. This makes all the difference toward creating an environment of engagement, wellbeing and bottom line results.
Brown’s work is “evidence” for the power of vulnerability for the tens of thousands of people who have participated and continue to take part in Grateful Leadership and The Power of Acknowledgment sessions.
For many years, whenever Judith W. Umlas, Grateful Leadership and The Power of Acknowledgment Author and Trainer has led courses and keynote sessions at companies around the world, she has often been approached by very enthusiastic participants who want to become certified to lead this transformational, high-impact initiative in their companies. They want the results that are achieved with one group of leaders made available throughout their companies, and they see this as the most efficient, cost-effective way to make this happen. But Umlas was concerned that this material could not be taught with her passion and commitment by others. Finally, at a training session she led for at Volvo Construction Equipment (one of numerous sessions she has led for this global company), Michelle L. Madsen, Delivery Specialist, Volvo Group University stepped forth and said she had to be certified! She was both single-minded and purpose-driven, and since the Train the Trainer Certification program had to be built from scratch, it took six months until she was able to teach her first class. Judith was extremely proud of the results as she observed the session (part of the certification program), and was a witness as Michelle achieved all 9s and 10s in her evaluations. Even more significantly, participants commented on how much they loved the passion she expressed for Grateful Leadership. They were truly motivated and inspired! If you see it as your passion, mission and/or purpose to create a culture of appreciation in your company, in which people feel valued and work to their fullest capacity, then maybe you, too, have to become certified! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if this is of interest. And please read the blog post about this exciting new IIL initiative: http://www.gratefulleadership.com/passing-the-torch-2/
Many of you know – or know of – the Founder, President & CEO of IIL, E. LaVerne Johnson. But you may not know the Matriarch of IIL, who passed away on February 2nd at the age of 95: LaVerne’s mother, Clydene W. Castor. When most people are retiring, Clydene began working at the company her daughter had just founded, 24 years ago. And those of us who knew her, felt her spark, her spunk and her spirit on an ongoing basis. She believed whole-HEART-edly in IIL and in her daughter’s vision. She believed in all of us, and each of us was enlivened and en -LIGHT-ened when she would answer the phone at IIL’s Global Distribution Center in Monett, MO. Our challenges became easier, and our successes greater when we heard the aliveness in her voice. So here’s a tribute to Clydene:
G – Gems of wisdom that she bestowed upon us with generosity and delight
R – Radiance from the light she shone on everyone and everything
A – Acknowledgements she gave us so generously and frequently
T – Treatment of all people with kindness and compassion
E – Encouragement she gave us when times were tough. They meant so much to all!
F – Fortitude in all of the challenges of life and work. They inspired many of us to personal greatness!
U – Unique in the most positive of ways.
L – Lovable. Purely and simply, inspirationally and deliciously.
So let’s all Be Grateful — for Clydene W. Castor, and for the legacy she has left behind that will last forever – one that her family, her friends and all of us at IIL can and will treasure.
Until the next time, Judy
by Tal Shnall & Judy Umlas
Let me ask you couple of questions: When was the last time someone acknowledged your efforts and contribution? When was the last time you personally acknowledged someone and communicated it to them in a heartfelt way?
Most of us go through life without a real sense of gratitude and appreciation for what matters the most. We are busier than ever. With technology available to us at any moment, the 40- hour work week is long gone and work-life balance is still an art that many have yet to master.
If you are a leader in your organization, you are probably faced with enormous challenges and opportunities to create value in the market place. There is more competition than any other time in history. Some organizations are still stuck at the Industrial Age mindset of products and services, while others have capitalized on their most valuable asset-people!
According to recent studies done by Gallup Organization, only 27% of employees are engaged, 52 % are disengaged and while 18% have “checked out”. It begs the question for every leader out there: Do we take our employees for granted? And why do we not make the time and the effort to appreciate and acknowledge the people that we value the most?
Read the full blog post at Leadership Cafe.
Tal Shnall is a leadership and client relations advisor. His background consists of customer service and leadership training in the hotel industry for almost 20 years. Tal has put together award winning service programs by working with brands such as Marriott, Hilton and Starwood hotels. Tal is passionate about leadership development and making a positive difference in the lives of others.
Connect with Tal on Twitter @tshnall or send a quick email to email@example.com
(As we near the end of another year, I think of the many things in my life I am truly grateful for: my wonderful family, my dear friends who are like chosen family, and my awesome work that allows me to pursue my passion, mission and purpose in life. But I really have to stop and marvel at one aspect of what I celebrate, and it is the amazing commitment of my husband of 47 years, Bob Umlas. I want to share what he wrote a while back when asked to explain his very unusual behavior in our marriage. So I’m happy to introduce you to Bob Umlas, Excel Guru and the longest celebrated Microsoft MVP of 21 years, and total romantic!
– from a very grateful Judy Umlas
My wife Judy was the presenter at a public event that I attended recently, in which she spoke about the first book she wrote, The Power of Acknowledgment. At one point, Judy asked me to speak about why I have written her love letters every Monday and every Thursday for the past ten years, and I was happy to share this with the 75+ attendees. Aside from the obvious better connection to each other, I find it affords me time to think about what I want to say so it comes out right. I write about what I noticed or admired and would usually not say something about, and then I can re-read it and make it accurate. I can add my feelings — something I also do not usually speak. So writing is actually easier.
When I share something accurately, I feel better myself, knowing the communication is one which always brings us closer. It’s not only acknowledgments or compliments, but it’s shared feelings as well. (And it’s certainly an opportunity for those compliments!) It also gives me the opportunity to share things that happened during the day to or for me which I either enjoyed or perhaps didn’t enjoy. Sometimes it includes a reminder, like “don’t forget to arrange for yada yada or to call so and so…” but that’s not at all what it’s about.
Knowing I do it every Monday and Thursday also has me focus on my wife during my work day and that makes my work day better, anyway! When it’s not writing, but it’s speaking, something in the background might catch my attention or my wife may make a comment or the content will remind her of something else, which will take the focus off what was just being spoken and the conversation is moved in a different direction, with perhaps the initial focus being forever lost. When writing, that never happens. If the phone rings or someone comes into my office, I put the writing aside and when I can come back to it, I’m reminded exactly of where I left off, so the focus stays on point and the communication is completed and on track. That’s rare when speaking.
I can’t imagine stopping this twice-a-week connection. When we’re physically together again, one of us reads the letter to the other and we can then expand on aspects of what was written but we return to the letter and can complete it. It’s truly wonderful. I advise everyone to give it a try! Once when Judy was delivering a corporate training session, one of the participants followed up with her to find out if I would coach him to write love letters to his wife and, of course, I did. He was very appreciative and I was told his wife was very grateful, too. For any of you out there reading this blog post, love letter writing coaching is available by reaching out to Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will connect us. I am happy to share this valuable practice with anyone who wants to enhance their relationship!
By Myles Miller
“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the Attitude of Gratitude is the most important and by far the most life changing.” — Zig Ziglar
What has become the focus of a self-centered society and might ultimately be its downfall is the belief that one can stand on one’s own and not need or rely on any one else to achieve success in their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the quote above reflects, we have an opportunity to engage with our world each and every day. Not only should we, but we must take the initiative to perform a simple act that could have far reaching potential. In fact this act, which should be performed more frequently each day, creates a great potential for the entire human race.
While this thought may sound grandiose or irrelevant depending on your perspective and degree of connection to humanity around you, it can be transformative in nature to what each day of your life and the lives of those around you can and will become.
Do you have goals and ambitions? Do you want more of whatever you desire and seem to struggle to acquire it a level of achievement that would satisfy you?
All this and more creates an environment where people can thrive and grow into all that they wish to become. But this requires a refocused and redefined approach to each and every human interaction we have in our lives — those who are closest to us and those that we may only meet in passing.
In Judy Umlas’ book, “The Power of Acknowledgment,” similar ideas and insights are shared that would help anyone understand how to acknowledge others and show them gratitude for even the smallest acts. Judy’s other books, “Grateful Leadership” and “You’re Totally Awesome” echo the same themes and ideas as well.
These ideas are not difficult to implement but with conscious effort and resolve to make a difference in one’s life and those around them, they can be accomplished in short fashion.
Now while these may all seem like good ideas, they are grounded in actual proven facts of a law, known as the Law of Reciprocity. This law states that when one positive action is done to someone, that person wants to do the same or similar positive action to that person or to others. Some have referred to this law as an idea related to “paying it forward.”
How does each of these elements tie together and how can you implement this practice each day in your interaction with the human race?
Start with your perception of humanity in general. We all have at the heart of who we are the will and capability to see others with caring and a willingness to acknowledge that they exist. What gets in the way is our busy-ness of life, where we seem to ignore or forget that others matter as much or more than we do in many cases. So start with a shift in how you see the world. Change the paradigm in your mind from, “What can they do for me?” to “What can I do for them?” It is a shift from a selfish attitude to one that is selfless.
This concept can be taught to others at a young age and can be adopted to be implemented in one’s adult life as well.
For me, one frequent application of this idea is to take time to acknowledge those who do anything for me, great or small. When they have performed any task or come through in some way. I take the time publicly, in meetings and privately, through notes of thanks sent and given to people often. It takes but a few minutes but has a short and long term effect that motivates and greats even greater results.
So, here are some ideas to try each day: find one person who you can do something for without any expectation of them doing something in return. Buy that person in line behind you a cup of coffee. Send someone on your team a note just to thank them for what they have done recently in their day-to-day efforts related to nothing done for you directly. Don’t wait for a special occasion to send someone a gift; let them know how much you care about them other than on their birthday or anniversary. Every time you see a person with a name tag in any service industry, use their name and thank them for their service. You could do this once, twice, three times a day or more. In fact, if you try this over the next 30 days, each day practicing just once or more, you will find in time that you will begin to want to do it more and more, making the “Power of Acknowledgment” and the Law of Reciprocity almost subconscious acts in every aspect of your life.
So begin today. Be grateful for what you have each day, be grateful for those around you, those you know and those who you have yet to meet. Then take the next step and acknowledge them in some way. Do something unexpected and watch what happens. The Law of Reciprocity will happen over and over again. People will begin to do more and more for others, and one person at a time doing more for others will create a state in which the world can and will change.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi
Judith recently had the opportunity to talkwith her colleague John Winter, VP of Global Learning Solutions at IIL about his “Knock Your Socks Off Acknowledgment Exercise™” he shared at ATD NY Metro Chapter presentation on Grateful Leadership
Emily Robinson-Endert, SPHR Director of Human Resources at Covenant Woods, and a participant in one of IIL’s Grateful Leadership webinars, recently shared this simple, yet effective strategy with our group during one of our sessions. After hearing it I was filled with joy. Therefore, I asked Emily if she would mind writing up her strategy for all of us.
Much to my delight, she agreed to do so…
When I hire a new person for my team, I ask how he or she prefers to be recognized or acknowledged. Some people will say a simple thank you; others say in front of the team; and some say chocolate!
Traditionally, the idea of a “meeting” is to gather a group for a specific purpose, whether it be business-related or otherwise. But let’s be honest…attention is not always 100%. Some people check and send text messages (I feel these people need forgiveness and behavioral therapy, if not recovery programs), others daydream or think of shopping lists, and some, like artist Michael Indorato, sketch.
During a recent meeting, Michael’s unconscious heard the words “if not now, then when?” Almost immediately, his artistic spirit was moved and inspired to create the drawing you see to the left. I happened to see his sketch at the end of the very same meeting, and asked him if he thought it could apply to Acknowledgment. To my delight, he was in total alignment with this, and added that heading to the sketch for all of us to consider and (hopefully) take to heart.
I truly believe that as 2013 ends and the New Year approaches, we MUST take this message to heart. In fact, I believe it is the cornerstone of the following 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Grateful (or Potentially Grateful) Leaders. So here they are: