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Leadership Development

When Things Get Hectic… Appreciate!

When the holiday season rolls around, most of us have the ‘Busy Dial’ turned up to 10, or even 20 on some days.

During busy times, it’s more important than ever to help employees, coworkers and perhaps most of all, ourselves, stay calm and grounded amidst the hustle and bustle.

But the real question is, how do you do that?

Our friends over at Zingerman’s Coffee Company maintain calm in the workplace during this time of year by regularly performing ‘Energy Checks,’ where employees working alongside each other check in with one another on how each is feeling — are they energized? Tired? Happy? Sad? Then, they compare their coworkers’ answers with the energy they perceive, in other words, how their energy is affecting those around them. They’ll put the folks with the highest energy and perceived energy levels up front to be customer-facing.

Another common way we keep the calm within the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is appreciations. We have both informal and more formalized ways of appreciating one another, and we try to set up systems to make that easy to do. One such way? Ari’s Three and Out Rule (read on to learn more!)…

Below you’ll find an excerpt from Ari’s book, “A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves,” in which he discusses why appreciating others is important and offers some suggestions for how to do it more throughout the year!

Be Appreciative – Make Every Day a Holiday

By Ari Weinzweig

An excerpt from his book, “A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves

Being appreciative of time and of all the players who are active on its stage is the best way I know to make the absolute most of what we have available to us. There are still twenty-four hours to the day, but they feel far better when I go into them with a grateful attitude.

When we’re young, most of us feel like we have all the time in the world. But if we take things (and people) in our lives for granted, trouble—and at the least, regret—are pretty sure to follow. The way I see it, every minute I don’t mindfully value is a minute wasted. Since they never come back, there are no second (or minute, or hour-long) chances. Every minute, hour, or day I can move onto the positive side of my life’s ledger sheet, the more rewarding things will be, the more effectively I can add to the lives of those around me, the lower my stress, the longer my life is likely to be. There are never any guarantees, but when I leave the planet, I want to go having worked hard and devoted serious time to great appreciation of all that’s around me.

cow meditating.jpgI try to relate to time according to my own anarcho-capitalist ideals about equality. Holidays are all well and good, but I want to treat every day as if it were special and bring out the best in each as it comes along. While I’m happy to enjoy all those days that get high social play, I don’t like to downplay the ones that get no special credit on the calendar. I love them all equally. In essence, I decided a decade or so ago to treat every single day like a holiday. To celebrate it, to do special things, to live the way I want to live, to actively get around people I want to be around. I try to wake up each morning like a kid on Christmas morning—excited to find out what gifts the world has given me.

With all this in mind, I work hard to actively appreciate everything: each of the great people I get to work with, the really wonderful customers who come to us every day, the kids who experience their birthday with us, the amazing foods we get to sell. I could go on at length about my appreciation for the rich flavor of the rye bread from the Bakehouse, the slightly spicy crunch of the fried chicken at the Roadhouse, the positive energy of the crew at the Deli [and] the artisan cheese made by the folks at the Creamery…

Appreciations add up…You know about my Three and Out Rule (*Emily’s note: Ari’s Three and Out Rule states “When I feel my energy sliding into the negative realm, I find someone around me—whether in person, on the phone, or via email, and I thank them. Sincerely. For something that they’ve done that I honestly do appreciate. I always get back positive energy. Then I immediately find someone else and do it again. Bingo. I get back more positive energy. Within a matter of minutes, I repeat my act of appreciation a third time. Voilà! More positive energy comes my way.”Martin Seligman has his version in the positive psychology world, which he calls “Three Blessings,” or, “Three Good Things”: writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for a week. Seligman recommends that for each item we also respond to the questions, “Why did this thing happen to you? What does it mean to you? How can you have more of it in the future?”

What’s so great about these questions is that he’s basically guiding us into conscious competence about making good things happen in our lives. Seligman suggests that if we start paying attention, “the odds are that [we] will be less depressed, happier and addicted to this exercise six months from now.”

Some simple ways to add appreciation to your day:

Pril Gouda Final MO web.png
  • End all of your meetings with “appreciations.”
  • Live and teach the 4 to 1 rule: four parts praise for one part constructive criticism.
  • Say thanks whenever you can.
  • Write thank-you notes.
  • Look to the “SBA” for help: When it doubt or distress, Stop, Breathe, Appreciate. 


We’d love to hear from you: how do YOU manage energy, both for your staff and for yourself, during a busy season?

Here are a few additional resources you may find helpful:

Maximize Your Time by Managing Yourself [WEBINAR]

A Culture of Positive Appreciation [ARTICLE]