Sunday, September 23, 2007


“What’s the secret to greater success and fulfillment for individuals and teams? Appreciation!” This is the attention-grabbing headline of Mike Robbins’ website and the central organizing thought for his work as a speaker, trainer, coach and author.

Every month, I receive Mike’s Appreciation in Action newsletter. In the newsletter, he shares a concrete way to make appreciation part of our work and personal lives and relationships. So I was excited when I heard that Mike was coming out with a book. He was kind enough to send me a copy of Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation.

I was curious about the book, because, to be honest, I wondered “What else is there to appreciation besides being grateful and expressing this sentiment to others? How can there be a whole book out about this topic?” Mike shows that there’s plenty to be explored here. The piece of the book that most caught my attention was the chapter entitled Appreciate Yourself. In it, Mike explores why self-appreciation can be challenging; the difference between self-appreciation and arrogance; what self-appreciation is; and how to appreciate yourself. Here’s a couple of thoughts I liked a lot:

“Without appreciating ourselves, we will find it difficult, if not impossible, to feel, think, and express gratitude bout life and toward others.” Why? “Because […] we live our lives and perceive the world primarily through the lens of our opinion of ourselves – our relationship to ourselves.”
“Once we discover and own our own unique strengths […] we learn that it’s more productive, enjoyable, and beneficial to relate to others through their strengths, rather than with a focus on their perceived weaknesses.”

Mike recommended the implementation of some “Positive Practices” for putting self-appreciation in our lives on a regular basis. These included creating a “sunshine file” – a folder with expressions of gratitude we receive (thank-you cards, photos, notes); regular “me” time; and picking something we appreciate about ourselves each morning and focusing on it all day.

I’ll tell you what makes Mike credible to me: his ideas don’t just come from being in the business world. Before becoming a speaker, author, and coach, Mike was a top-notch pitcher for Stanford University and helped lead his team to championships. He was voted “Most Inspirational” by his teammates. He was also drafted by the Kansas City Royals and played with them until an injury got in the way. Mike uses a lot of what he learned as a leader in the athletic domain in his work with companies today. Plus, you don’t get voted “Most Inspirational” for nothing!
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