The Two Sides of Thankfulness: Gratitude and Appreciation
The life of an entrepreneur can be hectic, stressful, and overwhelming. When you’re in the thick of building a company, it can be difficult to step back and remember what matters in life. However, it’s important to take time to be appreciative of the work you’ve done and who’s been there for you on the journey. With Thanksgiving next week, I want to take some time to discuss thankfulness.
The startup journey isn’t easy, and success can be hard. The early days can feel long and unforgiving. You can start to feel negative about your business. But staying in that negative mindset is a fast track to burnout. Remember what you focus on gets bigger.
To avoid that spiral downward, practice gratitude and appreciation. Just as you build in rituals of goal-setting, continuous improvement, etc., you should incorporate rituals of thankfulness through gratitude and appreciation.
Appreciating my team is one of the things I constantly need to work on and an area I need to keep improving on. It’s easy for me to forget to stop and appreciate in the go go go environment I’m constantly in. Appreciation is gratitude expressed outward. Take time to thank your team for their work, too – chances are, if you’re feeling downtrodden, they’re struggling too. Name what you’re appreciating. Build a process that reminds you to ask questions about what is going well in the business and what is great about a team member and the collective team. Reflect on what you’re grateful for amidst the chaos of startup life and name them. These rituals not only help maintain a positive mindset but also keep your team unified and motivated to push forward.
I also always try and take time to be grateful for the things I value outside of work. Being a founder of a high-growth startup requires giving up a lot. Take time to evaluate the things that are most important to you in addition to the success of your business. Top of the list for me is my wife and children. I knew I would never let the journey interfere with them. My team also knows that my family will always come first. I rarely schedule meetings during parent-teacher conferences, kids' doctors’ appointments, or school plays. Why? Because adequate presence matters to kids. I believe it matters more than getting everything right about parenting – which is actually impossible. Hence, adequate presence is a priority to me and by extension, my team’s expectation of my time. There are always exceptions, but they should be few and far between.
Yes, I’ve had to give up other things. There are only 24 hours in a day after all. But for me, it has been worth it to be able to prioritize my family. I couldn’t have done this crazy journey without my wife’s support. Particularly during this time, I reflect on how lucky I am to have my family. I hope to never take it for granted.
I hope this season is an opportunity for you to be grateful for every part of the journey. Don’t forget to thank the ones who have been with you along the way. Treasure the time with them and remember that while the entrepreneur’s life is difficult, there is much to be thankful for.
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