If you know me, even just a tiny bit, you know that I make an effort to express my appreciation for the amazing people around me. Because, you know what? There are so many amazing people around me, and I wholeheartedly appreciate each and every one of you.
Between 2005 and 2008, I worked in an architecture firm. While I was there, I worked my tail off day in and day out. But there was something missing. It wasn’t the lack of flexibility in my hours. I was still young and didn’t have a family yet, so I was okay with waking up at the same time everyday. It wasn’t the work itself. I enjoyed it at the time.
But the thing I missed was that I never truly felt that I—or the work I did—was appreciated. I felt as though I was the hardest working employee in the firm, or at least one of them, and despite all of that effort, and the extra hours I’d spend accomplishing things that weren’t even asked of me, I just felt like the work wasn’t seen at all. Regardless of the 110 percent I gave, no one seemed to pay attention.
During that time, I was promoted from drafter to senior drafter to job captain, and the only real appreciation was in the small income increase I received. But that’s not the appreciation I yearned for. I made big decisions during my time at the architecture firm. I made a positive impact that affected the whole team. I did much more than was expected of me.
Despite all of that, I still continued to be motivated and drive myself forward in my career because I wanted to get to a level where I was truly appreciated. I wanted to be a president or owner of my own firm, one that was recognized for some unique architecture, and my plan was to get there by the time I was forty or fifty. But, as most of you know, that never happened. I was laid off in 2008, and when I started my journey as an entrepreneur, that’s when I discovered the appreciation I was looking for all along.
After I was laid off, I created a basic guide to help architects pass the LEED exam (still available at greenexamacademy.com). It was simple, but I immediately felt like I was making a true impact because I started receiving notes of appreciation. People would send me emails thanking me for my study guides, thanking me for the free material that was on the site, or thanking me for helping them pass the exam. Sometimes those notes were just one or two words of kindness, which is all I really needed.
After a while, I would get the occasional essay-length note from folks who had passed the LEED exam because of my guide. I had helped them cut hours of studying they would’ve had to do otherwise. They mentioned me by name, thanking me for the things I had done.
Let me tell you: It felt amazing!
It was then I fully realized that one can really have an impact on the lives of people, even on the Internet. Even though you may never even meet these people in person, you can make an impact—simply by understanding their unique pains and problems, and sharing information that will help them overcome those pains and problems. That’s really what it’s all about:
Being empathetic, and sharing the knowledge you have with the goal of helping other people.
I save those notes of appreciation too. I highly recommend that you do the same. I have a folder in my email account that’s specifically for those thank you notes. I look at that all the time because sometimes when I’m feeling down, or I don’t feel like I have the energy to keep moving forward, or I’m not motivated, re-reading notes of appreciation helps me to keep going.
Now, through my work at smartpassiveincome.com, I actually receive handwritten notes of thanks and appreciation. It’s the best feeling in the world, and it tells me that I’m at least doing something right. I couldn’t thank you more for that, SPI audience. Thank you!
Appreciation in Everything I Do
The real reason I’m writing all of this is because I’ve been actively working on showing appreciation in everything I do. It’s incredibly important for me. I wouldn’t be here without you, so showing my appreciation is necessary. And, as I’ve said, I was in a place in my life where I wasn’t given the appreciation that I wanted. A simple act of honest appreciation can go a long way, and so I try to embrace that in all things.
For instance, in my book, Will It Fly?, I have a credits section that calls out specific individuals who helped in creating the book. If someone has contributed to something that I’ve worked on, such as the book, I give credit where credit is due. The same goes for the closing section of many of my blog posts, emails, and podcasts. I say, “I appreciate you.”
You’ve probably heard me say that before. I say it a lot, and I mean it every time. I started to say “I appreciate you” after hearing someone say, “I wish I felt more appreciated.” I empathize deeply with that. Ever since that day, I made a concerted effort to make sure those around me know how much I appreciate them. And sometimes, in response to that, people say thanks for saying it, which is kind of like a joyful thanks explosion.