Earlier this week, I was getting my three-year-old daughter, Ava, ready for bed. After a quick bath (always part of our nightly routine), she wanted to pick out her own pajamas. More specifically, the new nightgown that we bought her this past weekend.
Ava grabbed the pink nightgown with a cupcake on the front of it from the white dresser in her room and brought it to me. As I slipped it on over her head, something magical happened.
She looked down at the pant-less piece of clothing, then back up, her eyes meeting mine. Ava squinted, not because she was having trouble seeing the cupcake, but because that’s what happens when you have a huge smile on your face. Ava’s emotional state was pure joy.
“I love it,” Ava exclaimed.
My wife was in the bedroom, so Ava went in to show her, saying the same thing. Then she did a twirl.
“Don’t I look beautiful, Daddy,” Ava asked me.
“Always,” I responded.
I’ve been working hard at being more mindful of the present. Meditation has helped, but I also believe it’s an awareness — a constant reminder really — I’ve been trying to instill in myself. In that moment, I remembered something so little has the power to make someone so joyful. Ava doesn’t have to worry about work, money, school, popularity, politics or any other subject that weighs on the minds of most people. All it took was a single piece of cotton clothing.
Creating moments like this are an important part of human nature. Some moments we create purposefully and others come as a direct result of something else. It also doesn’t have to be something physical – it can be an email, text, phone call, verbal, etc. It can even be the feeling my son, Evan, gave me after grabbing my hand to hold it as we took a walk around the block the other night.
But I believe trying to search for moments where you’re servicing others, trying to make others happy, attracts happiness. I also believe recognizing the moments and then taking time to appreciate them can also be as valuable. These moments don’t just make the person on the receiving end happy, they make you (i.e. the giver) happy. In fact, the giver often ends up feeling happier.
The same could be said for at work, where you as a leader need to be a service for your employees. This past week I posted a Tweet that read, “Leaders need to encourage their employees to grow, and then coach them to reach their potential. It’s not about directing or managing, but inspiring and guiding.”
Servicing here is about recognizing the good you can do to make your employees happier and more successful. It’s about the little things that make them feel excited to come to work and contribute. This means servicing, inspiring and encouraging beyond the times you’re required to (i.e. scheduled performance reviews).
That’s where the crossover takes place: the nightgown wasn’t purchased for any special or scheduled event. It was because I knew she could use new pajamas and it would make her happy. However, I had no idea just how happy it would make both of us in the end.
The next morning, Ava woke up and came into my bedroom. She was sleepy-eyed and still half asleep. She strolled over to my side of the bed and before even saying good morning, Ava uttered something else.
“Do you see my nightgown, Daddy,” Ava asked. “Don’t you love it?”
I encourage you to spend the next week finding your nightgown moment. It doesn’t have to be buying something for someone. It just has to be meaningful.
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