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August 26, 2015

The Art of Appreciation

Last week my wife Debbie and I hosted a dinner. Twelve members and the President of a board she has served on for the past six years joined us to mark the end of her tenure.This board does not deal with anything related to consciousness, leadership, or mission-driven non-profits. Most of our dinner guests don’t practice mindfulness or meditation; they don’t know anything about conscious leadership.Early on, Debbie and I began the evening’s many toasts. We chose to speak and model the key components of appreciation:

1. Our toasts were all sincere. The foundation of authentic appreciation is that it has to be sincere and heartfelt.

2. We addressed our toasts to specific individuals or small groups, calling each person by name. ”Michelle, I want to appreciate you for ….”

3. We were as specific and descriptive as possible. “Michelle, I want to appreciate you for how you stepped in last year and took over just a few days before we opened for the season.  Your can-do attitude changed the morale of the staff and created a welcoming environment for the members that made it fun to be part of this community again.”

It didn’t take long before the others in the group caught on. Sincere and heartfelt appreciation began to fill the room. Many of these people are hard-nosed, hard-edged business leaders; they are not touchy-feely sentimentalists. But after several hours of being together in wave after wave of authentic appreciation (along with some great food and wine) there was hardly a dry eye in the room. People were co-creating authentic community. They/we were experiencing a key component of love.

At the end of the dinner, the President said that his experience, this group and this night had been magical, mystical, and unlike anything he had ever experienced or could have imagined.

Appreciation changes people, teams, organizations, and the world. Next time you’re giving a toast, give it a try. Who doesn’t want a little more magic in the room? Cheers!

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