Showing Appreciation in Business and Life

While the goal of mentoring and offering someone opportunities is not done to solicit gratitude, how we show our appreciation to those who've helped us matters.

No matter how talented you are, no matter how hard you’ve worked, there’s always someone you can point to that helped you get where you are today. The idea we can succeed in life without any help isn’t plausible and realistic. No, there’s always been people along the way who gave us sage advice, helped us overcome a challenge, or gave us that opportunity that opened doors to bigger and better things.

This brings me to the idea of showing appreciation and gratitude for those who have been there for us as we set out in business and life.

“Always remember people who have helped you along the way, and don’t forget to lift someone up.” - Roy Bennett

In my career, there have been several mentors dating back to my journalism professor in college. These professionals paved the way for me to learn faster, recognize my weaknesses and faults, and be better because of them. They not only felt it was part of their role to do so, but each inherently believed in helping others achieve success.

Those mentors and guides didn’t do it because they wanted credit for it. They didn’t do it for adulation or attention. They all did it because they believe in me and my ability to succeed at some level. As I do today, they believed in allowing people to succeed and grow as part of your own responsibility to "pass it on” and help others as you yourself have been helped.

Yet, I’ve been thinking lately about how many forget those that helped them. Maybe they’re riding a wave of success and feel as though it’s only a result of hard work and their unquestionable talent. And, despite mentors and life guides not doing it for the “thank you,” it’s important to remember your path and those who helped you clear it.

Philosopher and psychologist William James, whose Principles of Psychology was published in 1890, ushering in the theory of functionalism, talked extensively about our nature and the idea we want to be appreciated for what we do, who we help, and it is core to our humanity.

“The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated,” James opined.

While this theory may or may not coincide with your belief, it’s hard to argue based on my own experience. After encounter years of mentors, helpers, and professional advisors, I can tell you all of them are selfless. These are people who taught me the importance of helping others because it’s the right thing to do. In doing so, you also help yourself.

Yet, human nature does value appreciation, and I believe we all should - both receiving it and giving it.

How often have you taken the time to give a sincere and honest showing of appreciation to someone who has helped you in life or work? Not a cursory “thanks” or a Starbucks gift card for all the work someone helped you with a project. But an honest and deep showing of gratitude for someone who has helped you achieve new heights?

Too often, we take what we need from those we cross paths with and then enjoy the fruits of our labor without going back and showing sincere appreciation. It takes work and a diligent mind to remember those challenges and roadblocks people helped us overcome.

Still, it is a worthwhile use of your time, and it’s never too late to tell someone how much their aid, advice, or the opening of a door helped you and how much you appreciate it.

Reach out, be authentic and remember who helped you get where you are today.

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