What most people get wrong when talking about wins at work

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Most of us tune out and gloss over the “wins” and “successes” at work. Your brain is designed to problem solve and things that are going well are not problems. But learning to take a minute and really acknowledge what’s going well is one of the secrets to actually reaching the goal you’re going for. But there are a few pitfalls we all fall into. Listen in this week as we talk about how to avoid those problems and make sure wins and successes don’t become another checkbox to do item. Listen and learn.

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Hey y’all, today I want to talk about why I think it’s important that we should be celebrating our wins. But if you just rolled your eyes inside of that, stick with me. I used to hate this part of work. In a lot of our meetings, we would try to start off the meeting by talking about what’s working well, what are our wins, and it just never went well. It felt forced, it was awkward, especially when no one had anything to say. And if it didn’t feel genuine, it was even more awkward and uncomfortable. So, I’m not talking about it from that standpoint, but I want to give you some ideas on how do you truly celebrate your wins and why I actually think it’s so important.

 

So, I realized this was a problem with one of the teams I was working on at Amazon where every week we would have a weekly Business review. And in this WBR, we would spend the first, I don’t know, 5-10 minutes highlighting our wins. And this was across our entire VPS org, so there was quite a large group of people that were there, and some pretty senior leaders. And some teams would get called out when they didn’t have any wins that they submitted, or it was real awkward when no one submitted anything. But what I also started to notice was that many of the senior leaders would come to this meeting 5 or 10 minutes late. Now I get it, we run back-to-back schedules, and at some point, you’ve got to step away and you might need to use the bathroom or grab a bite to eat or something. I totally get that. I’m not here saying you can’t be late to meetings. But the message it was giving was the same people, and they were always 5 to 10 minutes late, it was kind of telling us we weren’t actually celebrating our wins. This was not something that leaders valued or an effective, helpful use of our time.

 

I also noticed a common thing when we would review documents at Amazon. We would try to highlight a few things that went really well. But again, this was very skimmed over. We would take literally 10 seconds and then we’d dive right into the problems or the questions or the negative points. Even with our own employee reviews, when I would get my review, I would skim through the things that were working well and I’d be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” and my brain would go right to where’s the problem? What are the things I need to change and work on? Partly, this is how our brains are wired. Your brain is obsessed with trying to problem solve because it’s trying to help you and protect you and it wants to fix things. Things that are working well, that we’ve accomplished that are not an issue, not a challenge, your brain purposely is filtering out. And we kind of want our brains to do this because if not, it would be so overwhelming if you were trying to process and consume all of those things at the same time. So, your brain’s helping you focus on real problems and coming up with solutions to that.

 

But here’s the thing. If you don’t take even a minute, 30 seconds, to really celebrate a win, to really acknowledge something that went well, it makes trying to hit that goal, trying to solve that problem so much harder because you’re just dragging yourself through it.

 

I had a coffee chat today with someone that was talking about, you know, they want to retire in the next 10 to 15 years and they want to be able to look back and feel proud about the work they were doing. I’m like, totally, 100%, like, let’s be proud of the work we’re doing. But here’s the thing, we talked a little bit about, it’s not like a flip of a switch and all of a sudden we’re so proud and we feel good. There’s no such thing as, quote-unquote, “arriving,” right? It’s not like all of a sudden we hit this major milestone and life is euphoric and amazing. This arrival concept is kind of made up because, again, your brain is looking for the problem and your brain thinks the problem is we haven’t arrived at this goal or this destination or hit this milestone yet and once we do, then things are going to feel better. But the truth is, how you feel along the way tells us how you’re going to feel once you arrive.

 

There’s a meme out there I love that shows this cute elderly couple that’s traveling abroad somewhere, like, on a boat tour, and they’re, like, asleep in the boat and the captain of the boat is kind of just, like, smiling and laughing at them. And it says something along the lines of, like, “Don’t wait until retirement to travel.” So, you’ve got to think, you can’t wait until you arrive to be proud and feel good. If you are trying to hit a goal, hit a milestone, get to retirement, get promoted, whatever that thing is, and you’re overworking and you’re so stressed out along the way, once you’ve, quote-unquote, “arrived,” you’re probably going to feel some relief and feel a little bit better. But that’s because you were feeling so much pressure along the way. You don’t just wake up and the next day all of those hard feelings are gone and it’s amazing and wonderful and everything’s great again. No, your brain is coming with you. If you don’t know how to deal with the overwhelm and stress along the way, your brain’s going to find something else to be overwhelmed and stressed about.

 

If you start noticing the wins and the good things and what’s working and where people are helping along the way to trying to launch something, even if the launch doesn’t go 100% according to plan, you’re going to feel proud and accomplished and valued and appreciated at that launch because you already feel that way. That is where your brain and your nervous system are already living. You can’t stress and overwork and freak out and then deliver the thing and assume that you’re just going to feel light and wonderful and excited and so proud. No, your body and your brain are going with you on that trip the whole time. How you feel along the way is how you’re going to feel when you get there.

 

Okay, so here’s a couple of pitfalls I see and some things I would offer for you to try instead. So, first and foremost, if you know me, you know I’m not a fluffy person. I can’t fake it until I make it. We do not want to BS ourselves here. Just like in that WBR I was talking about, you can’t force this. Okay, you can’t have a to-do list of “submit weekly wins.” Okay, you can’t BS this. It has to be genuine and truly make you feel connected, make you feel proud, make you feel appreciated, make you feel a part of the group. Okay, my favorite was an employee on one of my teams that, again, I was always pushing them to, like, okay, well, what’s working, what’s going well, let’s talk about the good stuff as well. And this person would always submit multiple, multiple wins every week, which is great. But what I noticed was they started to submit, quote -unquote, “wins” that were really just part of their job. I was like, “Look, you’re great and wonderful and amazing, and I appreciate you doing this, but this is what you get paid to do. Like, cool, not quite where we’re going.” So, you can’t BS your way through this. If that’s kind of the space you’re struggling with, I would offer to you like, highlight something maybe another person or another team has done that really helped. Maybe they went out of their way, maybe they unblocked you in some way, maybe they had some insight, right? Like, identify something some other group has done that’s outside of their normal day-to-day job and tell them thank you and call out how helpful it was.

 

Okay, so as we’re looking at these wins and successes, we don’t always have to have the data behind it to show the impact it had. It simply was, “Hey, person I work with, I see you, you’re a good person, I appreciate your help and support. Let’s keep being more of those kind of people,” right?

 

Okay, so we cannot BS our way through this. It’s not going to work. That leads to point number two. This is not a checkbox thing. If you’re making it a checkbox thing, it is going to fall flat. It is not going to feel genuine. I was talking with a friend, and she was telling me her husband had reached a 5-year anniversary at their company, which was kind of a big deal because people didn’t last very long at this company. And their manager, this is the best, their manager as a way to say thank you, gave them a $25 gift card to the company they worked at. And some of you might be thinking, “I shouldn’t laugh, and that was nice that they got some recognition,” and I agree. But this is not a checkbox thing, right? Like an extra $5 for every year back to the company where you already work? Not really a genuine win and celebration. Try to find something to do to make it personal. It doesn’t have to be money-related. If someone is hitting their 5-year anniversary, ask people they work with to say 5 things they like about that person or 5 things they’ve learned or 5 times they’ve laughed with this person. Like, get creative and get personal. But this is not a checkbox. We’ve acknowledged the win and we’ve celebrated the success.

 

Okay, so we’re not going to BS it, which means you can’t force it, like at every meeting you have to submit something, because sometimes you’re not going to have one, and that’s okay. And we’re not doing this as a checkbox. Don’t overcomplicate it. These don’t have to be big, huge, lavish things. Like, I’m kind of of the, if you can’t go big, don’t do it. Like, if you want to do something nice for a 5-year anniversary, do really nice. Don’t do it with a $25 gift card. But I’m also not saying you need a launch party. I’ve worked at companies where we’ve had some really big milestones and some really big things we’ve launched, and we have a launch party, and it’s fun. I’m all in for a party. Me, the sober girl, sign me up. I’m there. But at the same time, people are usually kind of tired after a launch, and there’s probably some problems we’re still working on and trying to go through, and people are tired. A launch party is amazing, but that may not always give you that emotion, that feeling of appreciation and value that you actually want your employees or yourself to feel. You know what works wonders and is not overly complicated? Is saying thank you to someone and being specific about it. It goes such a long way. At our core, as humans, we want to be seen and feel like we’re part of the group and connected with others. That’s it. Saying, “Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for going above and beyond and making sure the team was ready for this meeting with this leader today. I really appreciate it. It showed in how we were able to have a helpful conversation. And I know you went above and beyond and we’re working extra hours. I want to help support you so you don’t have to work extra hours, but I really appreciate how you stepped in,” right? That’s going to feel so much more fulfilling and rewarding and connecting than a launch party.

 

Okay, so we don’t have to overcomplicate it. So we’re not going to be BS-ing our way through this. It’s not checkbox, and we don’t want to overcomplicate it. I also think it’s really important that you get really good at the skill of doing this for yourself. Your company and your managers, they’re probably terrible at this because they’re busy and freaked out and struggling themselves as well. Keep helping them get better at it. But the truth is, the only person that can make you feel proud and valued and appreciated and respected and grateful is you. Those are feelings, those are emotions. They don’t come from other people. They come from thoughts you have about what other people do and don’t say and do. Go and celebrate wins for yourself. Tell yourself good job. Say, “Hey, I appreciate you helping that person think through that problem statement to get more clear on it. Good job,” right? Just simple little things. Get specific. Say thank you. Make it personal. “Hey, I’m really proud of you for accomplishing these three things today. Thanks for making your bed, for taking a shower, and even remembering to put on deodorant.” Side note, why is it hard for me to remember deodorant, you guys? I’m an adult. I should have been better at this by now, but I’m at the point where I consider the day a win if I remember deodorant in the morning. So, you know, welcome to my world. Be specific and thank yourself. “Hey, thanks so much. That employee was so stressed out today in your one-on-one. Thanks for just listening and letting them be stressed out and not telling them what to do and helping them figure it out. You did a good job. Thanks, self. I appreciate you.”

 

It’s important that you learn how to do this skill for yourself, but again, you can’t be checking boxes. We don’t need to overcomplicate it, and you cannot BS yourself. If it doesn’t evoke that feeling and that emotion of pride and love and joy and connection and value, you’re BS-ing yourself. It’s got to be real. It’s got to be genuine. And you need to be doing it in small, simple ways every day. Remember, there’s no such thing as arrival. We can’t wait until it’s over or we’ve retired or hit the milestone to allow ourselves to feel appreciated, to feel valued. That is our work to do as human beings for ourselves every day, and then show up and do it with other people. Because here’s the thing, the better you get at doing this for yourself, the easier and better you will be at being able to do this and help other people with it. When you value you and you appreciate the kind of person you are through the ups and downs of the day, and you’re feeling good, now you can go out there and notice things other people are doing and tell them thank you and call it out and recognize it because you’re already whole. You’re not out there looking for validation for yourself. You’ve already created that. So now you’re able to go and spread that feeling and that joy because you’re already full with it.

 

Quit BS-ing your way through the wins and successes. Do not make it a checkbox thing. Don’t overcomplicate it. And you cannot BS yourself. If it doesn’t evoke that feeling and that emotion of pride and love and joy and connection and value, you’re BS-ing yourself. It’s got to be real. It’s got to be genuine. And you need to be doing it in small, simple ways every day.

 

Remember, there’s no such thing as arrival. We can’t wait until it’s over or we’ve retired or hit the milestone to allow ourselves to feel appreciated, to feel valued. That is our work to do as human beings for ourselves every day. And then show up and do it with other people. Because here’s the thing, the better you get at doing this for yourself, the easier and better you will be at being able to do this and help other people with it.

 

When you value you and you appreciate the kind of person you are through the ups and downs of the day, and you’re feeling good, now you can go out there and notice things other people are doing and tell them thank you and call it out and recognize it because you’re already whole. You’re not out there looking for validation for yourself. You’ve already created that. So now you’re able to go and spread that feeling and that joy because you’re already full with it.

 

Quit BS-ing your way through the wins and successes. Do not make it a checkbox thing. Don’t overcomplicate it. And you cannot BS yourself. If it doesn’t evoke that feeling and that emotion of pride and love and joy and connection and value, you’re BS-ing yourself. It’s got to be real. It’s got to be genuine. And you need to be doing it in small, simple ways every day.

 

Remember, there’s no such thing as arrival. We can’t wait until it’s over or we’ve retired or hit the milestone to allow ourselves to feel appreciated, to feel valued. That is our work to do as human beings for ourselves every day. And then show up and do it with other people. Because here’s the thing, the better you get at doing this for yourself, the easier and better you will be at being able to do this and help other people with it.

 

When you value you and you appreciate the kind of person you are through the ups and downs of the day, and you’re feeling good, now you can go out there and notice things other people are doing and tell them thank you and call it out and recognize it because you’re already whole. You’re not out there looking for validation for yourself. You’ve already created that. So now you’re able to go and spread that feeling and that joy because you’re already full with it.

 

Quit BS-ing your way through the wins and successes. Do not make it a checkbox thing. Don’t overcomplicate it. And you cannot BS yourself. If it doesn’t evoke that feeling and that emotion of pride and love and joy and connection and value, you’re BS-ing yourself. It’s got to be real. It’s got to be genuine. And you need to be doing it in small, simple ways every day.

 

Remember, there’s no such thing as arrival. We can’t wait until it’s over or we’ve retired or hit the milestone to allow ourselves to feel appreciated, to feel valued. That is our work to do as human beings for ourselves every day. And then show up and do it with other people. Because here’s the thing, the better you get at doing this for yourself, the easier and better you will be at being able to do this and help other people with it.

 

When you value you and you appreciate the kind of person you are through the ups and downs of the day, and you’re feeling good, now you can go out there and notice things other people are doing and tell them thank you and call it out and recognize it because you’re already whole. You’re not out there looking for validation for yourself. You’ve already created that. So now you’re able to go and spread that feeling and that joy because you’re already full with it.

 

Quit BS-ing your way through the wins and successes. Do not make it a checkbox thing. Don’t overcomplicate it. And you cannot BS yourself. If it doesn’t evoke that feeling and that emotion of pride and love and joy and connection and value, you’re BS-ing yourself. It’s got to be real. It’s got to be genuine. And you need to be doing it in small, simple ways every day.

 

Remember, there’s no such thing as arrival. We can’t wait until it’s over or we’ve retired or hit the milestone to allow ourselves to feel appreciated, to feel valued. That is our work to do as human beings for ourselves every day. And then show up and do it with other people. Because here’s the thing, the better you get at doing this for yourself, the easier and better you will be at being able to do this and help other people with it.

 

When you value you and you appreciate the kind of person you are through the ups and downs of the day, and you’re feeling good, now you can go out there and notice things other people are doing and tell them thank you and call it out and recognize it because you’re already whole. You’re not out there looking for validation for yourself. You’ve already created that. So now you’re able to go and spread that feeling and that joy because you’re already full with it.

 

Quit BS-ing your way through the wins and successes. Do not make it a checkbox thing. Don’t overcomplicate it. And you cannot BS yourself. If it doesn’t evoke that feeling and that emotion of pride and love and joy and connection and value, you’re BS-ing yourself. It’s got to be real. It’s got to be genuine. And you need to be doing it in small, simple ways every day.

 

Remember, there’s no such thing as arrival. We can’t wait until it’s over or we’ve retired or hit the milestone to allow ourselves to feel appreciated, to feel valued. That is our work to do as human beings for ourselves every day. And then show up and do it with other people. Because here’s the thing, the better you get at doing this for yourself, the easier and better you will be at being able to do this and help other people with it.

 

When you value you and you appreciate the kind of person you are through the ups and downs of the day, and you’re feeling good, now you can go out there and notice things other people are doing and tell them thank you and call it out and recognize it because you’re already whole. You’re not out there looking for validation for yourself. You’ve already created that. So now you’re able to go and spread that feeling and that joy because you’re already full with it. Quit BS-ing your way through the wins and successes. Do not make it a checkbox thing. Don’t overcomplicate it, and get really good at doing it for yourself. When this podcast ends, take literally 30 seconds and go and tell yourself “good job” and actually mean it. See how you feel, see how it might change your mood, and what you do for the rest of the day. All right, y’all, you’re amazing. You don’t need to change a single thing about you for you to continue being amazing. You got this. We’ll talk soon.

 

Hey, wait, real quick before you go, if you’re struggling with bad managers or leaders, listen up. I recently did a workshop talking about the three steps to deal with a bad manager, and it’s gotten so much response and engagement. I’m having a hard time keeping up on replying to people about it, and I want to make sure you get it as well. It’s totally free, there’s zero obligation. Click the link in the show notes or go to Lindsaylymancoaching.com/badmanager and access this workshop to know the three steps to take if you are stuck with a bad manager. You got this. We’ll talk soon.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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