Episode 64 - APPRECIATE ME PLEASE: Amp Up the Appreciation at Work
Can you envision a scenario where you enter your workplace each day and are met with a chorus of praises –
“fantastic job,” “way to go,” “exceptional work,” “we’re lucky to have you”?
It might seem wonderful at first, but the truth is, this constant external validation can become like an addiction, needing more and more to sustain your self-esteem. The problem is, that you’re no longer in control of when you’ll receive your next validation fix. The way out of this cycle is to free yourself from relying on others’ approval and start appreciating yourself. Shifting from self-doubt to self-appreciation isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s simpler than you might think.
This episode dives into the significance of self-appreciation, and its impact on your performance, and guides you on how to cultivate it within yourself. Break free from the cycle of seeking external validation and discover the liberating power of self-appreciation.
Disclaimer: Some of the content and information mentioned in this episode might no longer be applicable. This includes references to specific links, courses, or programs. As a result, all the links mentioned will now redirect you to our current website. There, you’ll find up-to-date information, resources, and exciting new content to support your journey. We appreciate your understanding and unwavering support.
Hey there, friends, how are you? I hope you’re having a good day. A good day with your family, a good day at work, wherever you are, and wherever you listen to this. Maybe you’re commuting in your car today and you’re looking for some inspiration to have an awesome day at work and love your job, and you’re going to get it. You’re going to get it here because I’m all about helping you love the job, love the career you already have, and be automatic.
If you hear my dog barking in the background, it could happen, because it’s a lot of activity on the street today. I started thinking about appreciation. I was feeling very appreciative this week for some great things that happened in my business. I got some new clients, I met some great people this week, I made some new connections, I hired a new employee, and I feel really appreciative. And it got me thinking about the importance of appreciation in our lives in general, but certainly in the role it plays in loving our jobs.
So I started just sussing out some stats to see what I could find out in terms of how employees think about this. But of course, intuitively, I know that people will work harder and stay at companies longer if they feel appreciated. Of course, I found these two great stats from Deloitte. 69% of employees would work harder if they felt appreciated at work. And companies with employee recognition programs have 31% less turnover. So you’ll work harder and stay longer if you feel appreciated.
As a coach, one of the things I always talk about is the power that you have as a human being to be in control of how you feel about things. Whatever those things are, you get to decide if you feel appreciated, or not appreciated. You get to decide what you love, what you hate, or if you’re having a good day or a bad day. All of that comes from you. But so often, we think that other people and other things in the world are responsible for how we feel about stuff.
If you’re new to me, this might be a new concept for you. But if you’ve been listening to me for a while, you know that I am all about the idea that somebody does something, somebody says something, or doesn’t say something, in this case, you don’t get appreciated. Then you have a thought about that and that thought creates a feeling, and that feeling creates some actions. It works with appreciation because appreciation and feeling valued are feelings.
In all, I’m going to say relationships, appreciation, and feeling valued are critical to the health of that relationship. The challenge is that if you’re in a spousal relationship, they call it codependence, where you depend on your spouse to make you happy, or you depend on your spouse for your self-confidence or your value, versus what a psychologist I’m sure will say to you is that, to create that for yourself. If you don’t want to be in a codependent relationship, the key is to be able to make yourself happy to value yourself.
It’s the same with your job because your job is one of your most important relationships. A huge reason we break up with our jobs, or careers sometimes, not just with our jobs but our careers is because it starts by feeling undervalued and having a lack of appreciation. Because what ends up happening is you’re like, I’m working my ass off here. I’m doing my best work. I’m putting all my heart and soul into this thing. And nobody’s noticing. Maybe your boss didn’t say ‘thank you’ or didn’t say ‘good job’, or actually, instead of even saying, ‘Thanks for the hard work. Here are a few things to change,’ they shortcut right to the part where they need to change stuff. They forget to appreciate the work that you’ve done.
Meanwhile, you go to some meeting or something, and your boss might appreciate this random teeny tiny thing that someone else did. And you’re like, This isn’t fair. I’m working my ass off over here. And they get recognized for that. You start to compare your level of recognition to other people’s recognition, and the value of it. When you don’t feel appreciated or valued at work, your head starts spiraling into a million places. It’s not just about the thing you aren’t appreciated for, it’s now every time your boss walks by you in the hallway and doesn’t say ‘Hello’, or doesn’t look up.
You make that mean something every time your boss appreciates or says something to someone else and not to you. You make that mean something. You start to look for evidence of the reasons why your boss isn’t a very smart person because if they were smart, they would see your value. And so they must not be smart and hear all the 10 other ways that they’re not good at their job. You start to not like your boss. You start to maybe resent your peers. Maybe you start looking at your job itself and the role. And you’re like, Oh, this isn’t working for me.
Not being appreciated or valued can start this massive drama vortex like this theater that’s playing out in your head because you start to lose perspective. And that loss of perspective can impact your performance. It can impact how you feel about yourself, and how you perform like, If they don’t value me, that must mean I’m not good at my job. That must mean I suck. That must mean there’s something wrong with me. First, there’s something wrong with them. But really underlying, there’s something wrong with me. When you start to feel that way, you start to question, Should I be here? Should I be in this company? Should I be in this career? Am I qualified for this role? We start to spiral out into all of these things.
It’s important to understand because sometimes what ends up happening is that work is busy. Work is busy, and humans are imperfect creatures, which ends up looking like, your boss may not be a great leader. They may not be perfect. They may not notice everything. Having been a boss, my intention is not to be an asshole. Sometimes some boss’s intentions were to be an asshole. Mine wasn’t always that way. I would say 95% of the time, I wasn’t meaning to be an asshole.
I had a million things on my plate to write so I didn’t always notice the things that my employees wanted me to notice. Sometimes I did. It wasn’t always consistent because I’m a human being. Your boss is a human being, too. Sometimes I was a great leader, sometimes I wasn’t. And it happens. But when you’re working in that environment, we give ourselves a lot of great excuses. But we don’t give a lot of great excuses for other people.
Because when we feel like shit, when we feel underappreciated and undervalued, there needs to be a scapegoat for this, and it’s not going to be us. It’s going to be someone else. Because if it was us, if it was our fault, then we’d have to take responsibility for that. And we don’t necessarily want to take responsibility for that. It’s much easier to blame someone else. We think it’s easier to change how other people behave than it is to manage our own minds because we’re not used to managing our own minds.
But in fact, it’s quite the opposite. You cannot control how other people behave. You can only control what you think about how other people behave. But we don’t have enough practice doing that. We’re not taught that when we’re young. Ideally, what’s a way better way of doing it in today’s world is that you already know that you’re awesome. You already know that you are worthy, that you have value, that you can always be growing and doing better, but you are great just the way you are.
If you believe that about yourself, you have no problem with the idea that people don’t always appreciate you all the time. When they do, it’s like icing on the cake. It’s not the whole cake. And the reason for that is that you appreciate yourself first. You’re open-minded, you’re okay with the idea that you’re not perfect, but you’re always doing your best, and you could do better. And you’re just fine the way you are all at the same time. It can all be true. That is ideally how you want to show up.
Because then, you’re not putting your worthiness in someone else’s hands. Because no one else deserves that. No one else deserves your sense of worthiness. Can you imagine that you actually give your whole sense of self-worth to someone else? When you say it out loud like that, it seems crazy. You would never give your self-worth and your total identity to someone else. But we do it, anyway. I have done it, I still do it. I still have to catch myself all the time. The only difference is I have a lot more practice noticing. That’s really what we’re going to cover today.
Because even though the ideal state is, I totally value myself, I love myself, everything else is icing on the cake, all that kind of stuff. It sounds great and is an ideal state to be in. But how do you get from where you are now to get there? So I’m going to give you a couple of exercises to do. And so, for the rest of this podcast, I’m really just going to be talking about reinforcing why we need this appreciation. Where does it come from? It’s scientific, it’s part of our human nature. I don’t want you to beat yourself up about it. We’re going to talk about why we need this appreciation and the importance of self-appreciation.
Because if you don’t think it’s important to appreciate yourself, then you ain’t going to do it. And then here’s a couple of tricks for you. I’ve talked a lot about why appreciation is important and the impact it has on your enjoyment at work and your performance at work. But where does it come from? Why do we have this need for appreciation? And I want to tell you a couple of things. The first one is, that it’s normal. It’s baked in there. It’s baked in our brains. It’s human nature. We want to have a sense of value. It’s our human instinct.
Because back in the day, if we didn’t have value to the tribe, and we didn’t belong to the tribe, and we were thrown out of the tribe, we would die. So our brain tells us, we need to be accepted by others. We need to be valued by others because other people valuing us means safety. If you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, if you’ve ever looked at that, I’m sure most people have. If you haven’t, you can look it up. But the number one basic need on the foundation of that pyramid is safety. As humans, we need to be safe. So just knowing that we’re valued makes us feel safe, that’s normal.
Near the top of that pyramid is esteem. Not only does it make it feel safe, but we have this need for recognition and appreciation because we think other people recognizing us makes us feel a sense of self-esteem. But really, we can create that self-esteem for ourselves. So at its foundation, and how it applies to your career is, If my boss appreciates me, I don’t have to worry. I’m secure in my job. And if my boss appreciates me, that means I’m allowed, all of a sudden, I have permission to appreciate myself and have self-esteem.
I don’t know that I can help you with the first one. This connection between feeling a sense of value from your boss and having safety because that’s where our brain is wired. But I want you to just realize that when our brains were created that way, it was real. If we didn’t have value to our tribe, if we didn’t belong, it would equal death. But that’s not the way it is anymore.
The worst thing that’s going to happen to you if you’re not valued by your boss 95% of the time is a feeling you’re going to have. You’re just not going to feel great. You want to feel maybe fear or rejection or insecurity or something. Sometimes it can lead to being fired. But that is like an outlying situation that you can rectify way before you get fired if there really is a performance issue. The vast majority, as I said, 95% of the time, if your boss doesn’t appreciate you, the worst that’s going to happen is a feeling so don’t worry about it.
All I can say is, it’s not something. You’re not going to die. And then the other part of it, which is really about, If my boss likes me, then that means I’m allowed, all of a sudden, to like myself or appreciate myself. That part is just total bullshit. And we’re going to talk about that later on in the podcast. Before I get into how to start appreciating yourself because you are in charge of your self-esteem, and your worthiness. We will cover that. Before we go there, I want to just talk about the second piece. How does it actually work in your brain when let’s say, your boss or a colleague, or someone says, Hey, awesome job. You did so good at that, or whatever.
It feels good and chemically, there’s a neurotransmitter in your brain, and a pleasure sensor goes off. Dopamine is released in your brain. We want the dopamine. When someone appreciates us, we get the dopamine and the dopamine feels so good. All the pleasure sensors go off. It’s like when you’re eating chocolate, dopamine goes off. When you’re having sex, when you’re doing something pleasurable, you get this dopamine hit. And dopamine was created for us.
Back in the day, again, our brains wanted us to eat. So to stay alive, they wanted us to have sex or to continue the species. The dopamine is there. The same thing happens when we feel good about anything. We get this sense from our boss that we’re valued, and the dopamine goes off. We love the dopamine. Dopamine is actually the thing that makes us addicted to the stuff. If you’re addicted to chocolate, or you’re addicted to drugs, or alcohol, or something like that, there’s this dopamine hit, this pleasure sensor that you get, and we get addicted to that dopamine.
It’s like a call for the appreciation addiction. Instead of calling it this needy thing, you need validation from others so you can get the dopamine hit, the dope, and the appreciation addiction. But the truth is, you can feed that addiction yourself. You don’t need other people to feed that addiction for you. I want you to know, that we all have this in our brains. It’s our animal brains, our lizard brains, what I call your survival brain. It’s just automatic. You just need to notice that it’s acting that way and you can feed it yourself. You can appreciate yourself, you can love yourself, and you can set off that dopamine hit yourself.
It’s like with your dogs if you love dogs, as I do. They always tell you when you have a dog and when you say ‘come’ to the dog, you never want that to be a bad experience. You always want them to love coming to you because they get love from you or they get a treat from you or they get something from you. And we train dogs with treats. They do something right, we give them a treat. They get that dopamine hit. You can do that. You can treat yourself.
Think about it this way, by patting yourself on the back by appreciating yourself, you are giving yourself the treat you deserve. Right now you’re waiting for someone else to give it to you. But you’re not a dog. You can actually open up the cupboard and get your own treat. So that’s the first thing I want you to understand. This need for appreciation is totally normal and built into our nature as humans. We need it. But you do not need to wait for someone else to give it to you. You can give it to yourself.
In today’s day and age, not getting it does not mean you’re not going to die. It just means you’re going to have a feeling, a negative feeling. That’s the first thing I want you to know. The second thing is the importance of self-appreciation. I’ve already covered in great detail how waiting for other people to appreciate you is you giving away your power. I remember when I worked at McDonald’s. I have to give tons of presentations. We would go on these roadshows across Canada. If you know Canada, it’s a big country and we go on these road shows. We do the same presentation over and over again to all these different cohorts of franchisees selling the marketing plan every year. We’d have to do this two or three times a year. We’d go on the road and do our presentations depending on what it was.
So you come off the stage from the presentation and everyone would say, ‘Good job, good job, good job.’ It kind of became white noise. It almost came to the point where, even if I did a bad presentation, or if someone else did a ‘bad presentation’, like it wasn’t as good as they could normally do, or they weren’t getting the information across, whatever you would consider a bad presentation. They will go, ‘good job, good job.’
I was so cynical about myself at that time. People would say, ‘Good job.’ If they just said, ‘Good job.’, I would think, well, that means it was shit. Because if it was really good, they would come up with something more unique than ‘good job.’ Something that was really meaningful. When people would just say, ‘Good job’ to me, I took that to mean, ‘You could have done better.’ Terrible. I would get off the stage and I would look around for people and say, ‘Did I do a good job?’
I would wait for people to give me feedback to determine whether or not I did a good job versus one–not giving shit. Just did my best and took my own learning from what I did. The second thing was if people were saying, ‘Good job.’, just accept it. Who cares what they meant by it? Let it be the icing on the cake. I have just been sharing that experience with you to say, one, you get to own it, and two, sometimes when people say things, we can still, if we want to, turn that around into something that we want to believe about ourselves, anyway.
I wanted to believe that my presentation wasn’t very good. So even when people said, ‘Good job’, I wouldn’t give it any value, anyway. What you believe about yourself is more important than what anyone else believes. Because people can say awesome stuff to you. And I’m sure this happens all the time and people will say, Oh, my God. You look great. And you’re like, Oh, yeah. But… Then you have a great excuse. That work was really good. And you’re like, Yeah, but… If you don’t believe it, it doesn’t matter what people say at the end of the day.
What you believe is the most important thing. So you need to work on what you believe about yourself so that when you do this great work, and your boss doesn’t say anything, that can be neutral. That doesn’t have to mean anything because there could be 1000 reasons why your boss doesn’t say anything. And 995 of them may have nothing to do with you. That’s what happens. You do this work and your boss doesn’t say anything. And you make that mean, they don’t appreciate me. Then you feel angry, let’s say.
When you’re angry, how do you act at work? Just think about it for a second. Try to visualize yourself at work when you’re angry because your boss doesn’t say anything. What do you do? Maybe you go to your office, maybe you pout, maybe you avoid your boss that day, maybe you go into a meeting with your boss and you’re like, got a pickle up your butt about what’s going on, maybe you complain to a colleague, or maybe you tell yourself your bosses is an asshole. There are all these things that happen when you’re angry. You call your spouse, and you complain about your job.
When your boss doesn’t say anything and you think they don’t appreciate you, what ends up happening is, you don’t appreciate your boss and you don’t appreciate yourself. That’s what ends up happening when you think that. You start walking around all pouty or angry and acting out on your anger and you ultimately, don’t appreciate yourself and the work that you did, or your boss. You’re like mirroring the thought that you had.
Whereas let’s say, you did this work, your boss doesn’t say anything, and you think this work is really good. You don’t even care. You just think this work is really good. You feel worthy. And what happens when you feel worthy? I want you to think about yourself at work when you feel worthy, when you feel, Oh, I love this work I just did. Maybe you’re nicer to people that day, maybe you’re skipping down the hall, maybe you’re operating, maybe the next thing that you do that day, you’re even more confident and you’re operating better than normal, above average, maybe you go home and you have sex with your spouse, maybe you have more patience for one of your people who come to you.
When you think you’re awesome and when you think this work is really great, you act really great. You become awesome. Sometimes what happens when you do something your boss says, This is great work, thank you. And you think, They’re just being nice to me. Like I was when people would say, ‘Good job’ after a presentation at McDonald’s. They’re just being nice. What I’m trying to point out to you is, that just because your boss says something, or doesn’t say something, you get to choose what you make it mean.
If your boss says to you, This is great work, thank you. Some people might go, Oh, they love my work, or some people might go, I’m good at my job, or some people might go, They’re just being nice. You have all of these choices to think about everything. Some people might go, I don’t care what my boss thinks. I love myself. I love my job. Who knows? But all the different things that you think, then create your feelings and actions. The key here is to really notice what you are thinking that is driving your feelings.
Let’s say, you were walking around, and you were angry, but not being appreciated. What were you thinking? Why were you thinking it? Why were you choosing to think it? Take accountability for it. Don’t blame it on your boss. It’s not their fault that you chose to think something. They may have triggered a thought in you, but you chose to think it. I want you to know, that thought is a choice. You’re waiting for permission to believe something. And when you don’t get that permission, you feel like you’re not allowed to believe it. And sometimes when you get the permission, you still don’t believe it. These are all thought errors.
You do not need permission to believe anything about yourself. You get to believe whatever the fuck you want. Yes, I just dropped the F-bomb. I’m going to be dropping more F-bombs. I’ve decided, that’s how I talk. That’s how I’m going to talk on my podcast. So let’s get to it. How do you do this? Let’s say, you’re someone who really wants to appreciate yourself more, but you just don’t know how. I’m going to give you a couple of different tricks that I give my clients to do. The thing is, you got to do it. If you want this, you have to do it.
Because it’s not just going to be like an aha moment. It happens for some people where they’re like, Oh, it’s my thoughts. I’m just going to change my thoughts. Boom, and they do it. And tomorrow, they’re a different person. But for most people, it takes practice. It depends on how long you felt this way about yourself. One of the tricks I teach people is about projection. You can ask yourself, what is it you’re hoping your boss would think about you? Make a list. Just write it down.
What are you hoping your boss will think about you? You can write down all these thoughts. Maybe like, I want my boss to think that I do great work, that I’m needed on the team, and that they’re lucky to have me. Write that they really liked what I’m doing on a specific project, that I’m great at X, Y, Zed. Make a list of all the things that you wish your boss or some company or whatever would appreciate about you. And then I want you to practice thinking those things about yourself first.
If you want your boss to say to you, You do great work, then I want you to start practicing thinking, I do great work. Start believing at practice thinking it and if you can’t believe that yet, I don’t want you to start practicing a thought that you don’t believe because then you just will never believe it. I don’t believe in faking it till you make it for everything. Sometimes you have to do it. I can’t say I never believe fake it till you make it. But sometimes you just need to take smaller steps.
If you can’t get to I do really great work. You can start with a thought like, Sometimes I do really great work. You can believe that about yourself, or I want to believe I do really great work, or people have told me I do really great work in the past. I want you to choose a thought that you believe is as closely aligned with what you want your boss to say as possible. If you want them to say, You do great work, then you can either think, Oh, I do great work, I’ve done great work, Sometimes I do great work, I always try to do great work, whatever it is. I want you to practice that thought.
If the thought is you want your boss to say, We’re so lucky to have you on the team, then you would change it into They’re so lucky to have me. Or I add a lot of value to this team or something that you believe. I want you to ask yourself what you want, what you want your boss or whomever to say about you to appreciate about you. Then I want you to practice appreciating that thing about yourself in whatever thought makes sense to you that you can believe right now. If you would just do this for five minutes a day, it’s going to start to shift. You’re going to start to shift. It may not be the first day or the first week or whatever, but you’re going to start to see the shift.
Here’s the other thing that I want to share with you. This is just another little trick that I use sometimes. This one actually, I do this one every day. But another trick that I share sometimes with my clients, is I ask myself what I did well today. I focus on what’s working. I say this all the time. We are wired as humans to focus on what’s not working because when something’s not working, again, back to our lizard brain or our survival brain, when something doesn’t work, normally, it means danger, which equals death.
We’re wired to focus on the negative, but I want you to rewire your brain to focus on what’s working on you. Ask yourself what you did well today. Write down all the things you did well today. I want you to start with that. I don’t want you to stop and then write down, have another column what didn’t work today. I want you to write down what worked today. When you write down all the things that worked today, write down some thoughts about what you did.
As an example, let’s say, you did a presentation. And you like the way you did the presentation. You did a great presentation so you write down what you think you did well. Then I want you to write your thoughts down about that presentation. Why do you think you did it? What do you appreciate about yourself in that presentation? Oh, I was prepared. I was confident. I was loose. I really took the time. I didn’t worry about what people were thinking about me. I really want you to write down your thoughts about why what you did worked.
If you read James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, it’s a really great book about habits. One of the things in any book about habits really is about rewarding yourself. In this case, I want you to create the habit of doing this work, meaning creating the habit of appreciating yourself every day. If you ask and answer the questions every day, and maybe give yourself a time limit, like, I’m going to spend five minutes on this every day, and I’m going to write it down. I’m not just going to do it in my head. Because when you do it in your head, it never works. The head and your brain are very messy. You do not want to try to fix your brain in that messy space. You need to get that shit out of your head.
So you say to yourself, I want to create this habit of appreciating myself every day. And so I’m going to spend five minutes asking myself what I did well every day and what worked. I’m going to write down my thoughts about what worked. And if I do that every day, I get a reward. Give yourself a reward every day like your brain gets a dopamine hit not only from doing the work but also from the reward. So what is the reward? You decide it can be a thing.
Maybe you get to have a fancy coffee or something, Maybe it’s a treat, like a food-related treat. Maybe you put money into a jar for something. Maybe you do something nice for yourself. Figure out a way to give yourself some pleasure. Maybe you decide every time you do that, you get to take a break like you get to go have a 15-minute walk around the building or walk outside depending on if you’re still on lockdown where you are.
Those are all things to think about. What is the reward? What is the pleasure award you’re going to give yourself every single time you do this work of appreciating yourself? You need the treat. You’re going to open up the cupboard and you’re going to give yourself the treat. You need to give your brain that dopamine hit. Because if you don’t give your brain a dopamine hit, this is such an important part of it, it’s going to be uncomfortable because you’re not used to doing this.
It’s going to take extra brainpower for you to actually sit down and write out what worked and your brain is going to be fighting you to do that. It doesn’t want you to do this extra work, this extra use of this extra brainpower, and writing your thoughts about it. It doesn’t want to do it. And you’re going to do it for three days and then you’re going to give up on this work. You need to add the reward in order for you to do it. What is the reward you’re going to give yourself is so important, my friends.
I talked a lot about a lot of stuff today. I want to talk about some key takeaways. The first thing is, that appreciation is critical to you enjoying your job. It is normal to want appreciation. All humans need appreciation. We are wired to need appreciation. The key thing to remember is if you don’t get it from your boss, it doesn’t mean you’re going to die. It just means you’re going to have a negative feeling sometimes, and you can handle feeling things.
As humans, even though we need appreciation, we don’t need to get it from other people. We can create it for ourselves. I want you to remember that you can create it for yourself. And it all comes back to what you believe about yourself because people can appreciate you from the mountaintops. If you don’t believe it, it’s not going to matter what people say about you. So you need to work on what you believe about yourself first. And you can do that.
I gave you a couple of a couple of exercises. One is a projection-based exercise. Looking at what you want your boss to say about you, and then working on those beliefs yourself. The second one is just spending time every day recognizing. It’s a recognition exercise. Both of those exercises, but particularly the recognition exercise require a reward for you to be able to do it consistently.
If you’re a dog person like me, and you love your dog like crazy, and you want to give them love and you want to pet them and give them treats and all that kind of stuff, do that for yourself, too. Imagine the love you have for your dog, and bring that to yourself when you’re doing this work. I just came up with that on the spot. But it’s so true. If I love myself as much as I love my dog, it’d be big. My husband sent me this meme the other day. He said I want you to know that I love you as much as you love our dogs. And it was like the best thing ever. So love yourself as much as you love your dogs.
That’s all I have for you this week, my friends, I will talk to you soon. Have a great rest of the day. Bye for now.