Reflecting Back, Looking Forward (#52)

This week is Friday Forward #52! It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I started this experiment of taking the short inspirational e-mails I sent to my team each Friday to start the weekend and expanded it to a broader group to see where it would go.

Initially, I struggled with how to best send the e-mails to more people, but ultimately just decided to start and see if I could keep it up for a year. It was hard at times and there were many weeks where I was really pressed for time, on vacation or and thought about taking a week off. But I stuck with it.

And here we are, a year later. As of last count, 6,000 people receive these Friday Forwards and many have shared with their colleagues, family and friends.

Upon reflection, I thought I would share a few valuable lessons I learned along the way.

  • New Habits: When you do something over and over again, it just becomes a habit. At some point, I no longer had to set reminders for myself to draft that week’s note, set up the e-mail, etc. It just became something I did. Wednesday is draft day, Thursday is edit day, etc. Writing Friday Forwards became a keystone habit that improved discipline in other areas of my life, including becoming a morning person for the first time.
  • Just Start: I always knew I wanted to write more and felt that I had a few ideas worth sharing, but hadn’t taken action. Then, I got inspired by a leadership retreat. The best decision I made was not to overthink how to make it work and just start. Once I started, I never stopped and just kept tweaking along the way.
  • Create Value for Others: In his bestselling book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi espouses the networking principal of “It’s what you do for your network, not what they can do for you.” Each week, I tried to create the best content that I could, without any strings attached. At times, I know it frustrated my marketing team to see all the time and energy that I put in without any obvious ties to our business. However, I have received hundreds of heartfelt comments and feedback, made new connections, and heard many stories of how the right messages at the right time made all the difference for someone. You really do get what you give.
  • Spend Time on What Brings You Energy: Writing the Friday Forward aligns with several of my personal core values. In many ways, it’s the most natural thing I do each week. While I didn’t understand how it would fit into my life/business when I started, I felt spending time on something I would enjoy and that was value-aligned seemed like a good investment. A year later, it has led me to rethink some of my goals and opened doors to new people and opportunities that are compatible with those values. I am also in the process of developing a Friday Forward book that will be published over the summer.
  • Show Vulnerability: I have continued to find that the more I share on a personal level, the more of an impact I have and the more others feel comfortable doing the same. Some of the stories I have received are really heartfelt and inspirational. In our social media- fixated culture, we tend to share the best versions of our lives, not necessarily the real ones. The more you can be authentic, and put yourself out there, the greater the impact.

Thanks to everyone who has stayed with me on this journey and, in particular, those who have sent thoughtful comments and feedback; they are what have kept me going on those tough weeks. I look forward to sharing even more in 2017 and reading your responses to those thoughts.

Have a great New Year!

 

Quote of the week

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life”

Mark Twain

 

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