Have you thanked your brain surgeon today?

Published by The Nashville Business Journal

I learned something important last summer. A casual acquaintance, whom I bonded with over home building, told me he was a brain surgeon. I was fascinated by his profession until he said something that struck a chord deep in my professional psyche. He said he saves lives on a regular basis, yet no one ever thanks him.

I decided to use what I had learned for some greater good. First, I called the doctor who repaired my torn meniscus a year earlier to thank him for doing a good job. My knee works great. He seemed dumb-founded by the call. Then I thought about the importance of recognition in all workplaces — and for all employees.

A chain reaction

Recognition has surprising and long-lasting benefits. We react positively when someone praises us constructively for something we have accomplished. It’s pretty simple: Give him a self-esteem-boosting pat on the back and he will do more, and probably better. Present her with an award in front of her peers and she will become your biggest supporter.

In our leadership classes we often discuss how to positively impact employee performance in both good and bad circumstances. There is always consensus that recognition is the one universal factor that has no downside and almost always yields a positive impact on performance. Here are ways to start incorporating more gratitude in your life and work:

  • First, ask yourself how often you have sincerely thanked a professional who helped you.
  • Second, try to draw on how you felt personally the last time you were recognized for doing a good job in your professional life.
  • Next, take a few minutes from time to time to thank those who help you but seldom get recognized. Start with one extra thanks a day and build from there.
  • Finally, reap your own reward: It feels good to go the extra mile for someone who may seldom get credit for a job well done.


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