One more book recommendation for the week: Tom Peters’ The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. Don’t be intimidated by the heft of this book. It’s not meant to be read in one go, but rather savored and considered piece by piece. Two elements in particular stayed with me – Tom’s discussion of rat psychology and his treatise on “thank you.”

I love the power, passion and force that Tom puts behind his words. In discussing rat psychology he calls out one of my pet peeves well and truly:

“You may by ‘one of those’ – one of those who believes ‘They’ve got to go well above and beyond to deserve praise – otherwise you’re just rewarding them for doing their job. Lunacy! Of course extraordinary work deserves extraordinary rewards. But what about the little barrier removed? The small but important helping hand offered? The milestone met a couple of days ahead of time? I am damn well suggesting in the strongest terms I can muster that you… CONSTANTLY …offer recognition. People. Any of us. All of us. Never get tired of ‘it’!” (emphasis original)

Yes! Exactly – Tom, well stated. We never get tired of hearing that we are doing is important and valued. Thank you for stating it so clearly.

I was particularly struck that, in a special section on “The Heart of Business Strategy,” the very first (in his words) “commonplace advice – reminders of the obvious” that Tom lists is:

‘Thank you.’ Minimum several times a day. Measure it! The rarest (and most powerful) of gifts: ‘THANK YOU!’ Recognition for contributions or support is of inestimable value in cementing relationships – and inducing future contributions and word-of-mouth support. By the way, you can practice ‘thank-yous’—proffering thereof is a learnable skill. And a measurable one.

“Bottom line: This must become habit-ritual in order to be successful!
“Bottom line: Measure it!”

And then his second “reminder of the obvious”:

‘Thank you,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Thank you’ again. ‘Thank all of you!’ Message: Thank everyone even peripherally involved in some activity – especially those ‘deep in the hierarchy.’ There are no ‘small’ acts of support. The ‘real work’ of organizations happens several levels below the ‘top.’ Recognition and inclusion of ‘support’ members of a team, no matter how indirect, has multiplicative value when it comes to getting things done – perhaps nothing is of greater import.” (all emphasis original)

I really can’t add anything more to what Tom has stated so beautifully. Have you said thank you to anyone today?

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