2 life-changing minutes

About 9 years ago, my wife scooped me up from the airport on a Friday night after a long week in NYC doing sales/client stuff.

I said “Hi” and continued to text and email away. She asked about my trip and I gave her half answers. “It was good. Fun, learned a lot.”

As we got home, I could feel her frustration growing.

Finally, she exploded. I’ll spare you the details but the gist was: “I wish you would show more appreciation and gratitude!

For example, say 'THANK YOU' when I pick you up from the airport.”

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Two things happened in my brain immediately.

1) This felt familiar. Employees, business partners, and other people in my life had shared versions of this feedback with me. They said I didn’t affirm and acknowledge enough.

2) I felt confused, genuinely. I told my wife I’d do anything for her. So when she picked me up from the airport, I didn’t FEEL gratitude. It felt, well… just like what a husband and wife do for each other. And I didn’t expect “thank yous” for the many varieties of things I did for her. I told her, I FELT FAKE saying “thank you” when I didn’t feel it.

We went a bit deeper at that point and I said: I was raised in a house where you did things for each other, you didn’t hear much praise or affirmation because things were expected of you so you really only heard negative feedback.

At the time, I said, “This is how I am, don’t change me!” and we agreed to disagree and moved on.

Fast forward to today:

I thank my wife and others multiple times a day. Every week, I write appreciations to my GX crew.

I often start or end meetings with a hearty thank you.

Most people who work with me NOTE how unique this is as a leader and how it's the ultimate ROI.

Costs nothing, but it's highly valued.

So JESSE, what changed? Did you learn to be fake?!

Haha, sometimes my brothers accuse me of that.

The reality is I have built and maintained a VERY strong gratitude practice. Once I FEEL the gratitude, the appreciation is easy-peasy.

Let’s back up:

I’ve written a lot about my coach and how coaching impacted my life.

Gratitude was one thing I did in concert with coaching that had a HUGE impact.

And it started with the science:

(Disclaimer: I am not a scientist so do your own research)

My understanding is that humans were NOT built to be happy. We were built to survive.

And if you were to design a species to survive, you’d make them AMAZING at tracking threats and problems.

And guess what, we humans are AMAZING at scanning situations, people, and rooms for threats and problems.

Our brains naturally do that. When we wake up in the morning, our brains NATURALLY think about the threats and problems of the day.

Phones of course make this worse because “issues” are always at our fingertips.

To take it further, our brains (our egos) don’t know the difference between a tiger about to eat us and our revenue being down for the quarter.

Our bodies feel similarly threatened by both because our brains tell our bodies to do so.

Knowing this, for most of us our “default” mode is to constantly be in a state of threat.

Constantly think about problems. And as a result, OF COURSE, we are not happy, calm or peaceful.

No wonder I wasn’t feeling any gratitude. I always felt under duress at some level.

Forget about being happy, regular gratitude will help you JUST to be “neutral.”

Now that we understand the science and reasons, I’ll give you some of my pro tips for gratitude and a few specific practices I do.

1. MAKE IT SPECIFIC - most people I talk to about gratitude say “Yeah I tried it. It got boring and repetitive.”

And I’ll ask them: what did you say you were grateful for?

The answer: “My kids, life, food, coffee.” Those are fine answers, but of course, they become less meaningful and repetitive.

One of the keys to making this work is to find specifics and MOMENTS.

For example, rather than saying “I’m grateful for my daughter Serena”, say: “I’m grateful for the moment at bedtime last night when Serena and I play-wrestled and for her goofy laugh.”

The specifics make all the difference for a few reasons:

1) they are UNLIMITED (I could find a moment like that every day with my kids/wife/colleagues.)

2) They help you FEEL it (more on that below).

And 3) adding details avoids the issue of the practice becoming boring/repetitive.

2. MAKE IT REGULAR - Of course, any amount of gratitude is better than none.

But to truly feel the impact, I think you want to do it daily or at least 5/7 days per week.

Remember, your brain, left to its own devices, will naturally skew negative (because it's trying to help you survive), so you’re countering hours of a natural pattern.

If you aren’t doing this daily or multiple times a day, it's tough to envision it having much of an impact.

Like any muscle, it will become stronger and more natural the more reps you give it. I’d recommend starting with 100 days and seeing how you feel.

3. FEEL IT - this one can be tough, especially for men. Especially for “thinking” oriented men, type A entrepreneurs.

It took me a while.

The point of gratitude isn’t to THINK it. That doesn’t do much for ya.

FEELING it makes all the difference. Try to think of a time when someone surprised you with something great.

Or even a great customer service moment of “surprise and delight.” Think about how you FELT.

Light, buzzing, impossible to get the smile off your face. That’s the type of reaction you want.

Being specific really helps. Most feelings come from specific moments and interactions, not from “generalities.”

I also like to meditate before I do gratitude, or at minimum, close my eyes and breathe 4-5 times before I actually write down what I’m grateful for.

A new thing (shared below) I was recently introduced to is actually taking 1 minute and VISUALIZING the moment you are grateful for.

Where were you? What sounds did you hear? What smells did you experience? What did you see? It really helps with FEELING it.

With these 3 points in mind, here are two actionable systems I use and recommend:

1. Write

“Two Minute Mornings” by Neil Pasricha. Neil has a very amazing story worth its own email.

He has a journal you can buy on Amazon as well. But really, I just do this in my notes app. There are 3 prompts:

  • Today, I will let go of… [1-3 specific things… e.g., “feeling bad about losing that deal," “the anger I felt when my wife forgot to pick up my medicine,” etc]

  • Today, I am grateful for… [3 specific moments per the above]

  • Today, I will focus on… [one specific thing. It could be one thing to do, or it could be one way you want to show up.

It legitimately takes two minutes and can change your life.

2. Prime

Recently, my coach got me into Tony Robbins 15-minute daily priming exercise. It's sort of a genius, guided mix of meditations.

It’s 3 minutes of breathing. Followed by 3 minutes of DEEP gratitude.

Then a unique spiritual energy exercise for yourself and those in your life.

Finally, you set 3 specific goals. It’s simple but incredibly powerful. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

So that’s my gratitude journey… btw, WHY is this showing up in an entrepreneurship newsletter?

As I said above, appreciation is the HIGHEST ROI you can get for yourself and your team.

It costs nothing to give thanks and specific recognition. And it's SO valued by your team.

What holds most of us back from seeing its full power is that we aren’t taking the time and intention to first identify and feel gratitude.

Once you feel it, giving appreciation is obvious.

As much as you wish you could, you can’t separate your WHOLE person from your business as an entrepreneur.

So anytime you are working on yourself, you’re working on your business. Gratitude is an awesome place to start!


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