Fish Noodle Soup for the Soul

As seen in our October 12, 2023 Newsletter – Subscribe Here

I was listening to a podcast recently, interviewing the entrepreneur, athlete and life coach, Jesse Itzler, and it was chalk full of good information. But one of the biggest messages that spoke to me, was his way of building authentic relationships.

Leading into this thought, he shared another task that he loves to do, which is spending 3 minutes a day reaching out to people to show gratitude to them in his life. He does this via text or email. Just a way to say “hey, I am thinking about you.” It only takes 1 minute to send a message to someone and brighten their day. If you do three of these a day, even if it takes five minutes, it will be worth it.

He mentioned he does this to any and everyone. From friends, to family, to business vendors, to people he has used their service and enjoyed. He considers it one of the reasons for his success.

Then he dropped some real gold.

He calls it his Compliment, Congratulate and Console process. When he begins talking about this, he describes how he recently lost his father. He explained that while you don’t need to write the list of people down who do check in, you will innately know who didn’t reach out. It is just something about the magnitude of the situation.

And he followed it up with a moving sentence “I know who reached out and I know who didn’t. And those that didn’t don’t get a pass… They DON’T get a pass!

This sentence stuck with me. Probably because I know I have dropped the ball on this. I am not the best about reaching out during hardship of a friend. Partly because I don’t hear about it until after the fact, and don’t want to bring up the pain again. And partly because I don’t know what to say.

The knowing what to say part is the hardest. I have sat down and written out emails or texts just to say “I am sorry for your loss” or “I am here for you if you need anything”. But those words seem to fall short; they seem too contrived.

But then again maybe that’s all you need to say. That you are aware of the situation and you know they are in pain.

Just being there is important. As stumbly as the words might come out.

“I see you.”

That’s what they want to hear.

And this doesn’t just need to happen for the lows. You can be there on the highs too. Ideally, you should also reach out when something good has happened in their life. Congratulations is far easier to say. And this is one where you can come in much later and keep the party going in their mind.

Sure, if you come back after they have been in their new promotion for over a year and say “Congrats on the promotion” it might feel a bit out of touch. But maybe a year after they have a kid, they still want to hear congratulations! Situationally dependent, but still important to try to be there as early as possible for the highs too.

And then there is just the every day “Thinking of You” or “I am grateful for you because <Fill In The Blank>” message. These are the weirdest messages to write, but will likely be the most meaningful.

We all have a deep desire to know that we are heading in the right direction in life.

Yes, some of us do well with building an intrinsic score card to grade our life (the only correct way), while others use extrinsic (e.g. money, belongings, etc.) as their measuring stick.

But truly we all desire to know that we are “Doing a Good Job”. And the only way we get that feedback in life is either 1) our paycheck grows annually, 2) our annual employment review (if we even get one), 3) our child’s achievements, and 4) if our life just floats along uninterrupted by bad stuff.

These are all terrible ways to receive feedback. That is why we look to our parents to say “Good Job” and “Keep Going” or “Stop Doing That”. But when we lose them, then what?! Who is going to tell us they are proud?

We all need to get into the habit of reaching out to one another and complimenting them on something they do well.

Making it authentic is key! Don’t just plug into ChatGPT “Give me a compliment I can give my friend” (although it may work). Think of something that you really admire in them. Here are a few good rocks to turn over to find authentic compliments:

  • Anywhere that you find yourself aspiring to be like them? Maybe fashion, or the way they cast their fly rod.
  • Anywhere you find yourself comparing yourself against them? “Hey man, you really crush it in sales. Any pointers you can give me on how to get better?”
  • Anything you recently experienced with them? A funny joke they told, a fantastic story they told at a party, or maybe your kids are on the same team and Billy turned out a crazy double play.

These are just a few thoughts where you can find some authenticity.

To get in the habit, you should start by texting or emailing. There is no friction and you can craft your message accordingly. Calling is better, but if you are not in the habit of this type of thing, you should wait until giving compliments comes more easy to you.

But if you really want to cut through the noise, a handwritten letter comes with another level of gravitas. It requires more effort and everyone knows it. You have to have a card, write that card, stuff it in an envelope, spray it with your cologne (just messin’), find a stamp, and take it to the post office.

The best part is… everyone LOVES reading a handwritten letter! I think it comes from being a kid and seeing your parents open the mail, and always asking “Anything in there for me?” to which I got a lot of no’s unless it was around my birthday or Christmas.

And that feeling that you create for your friend, is half the purpose of this. Everyone wants to feel a little bit of those inner child emotions every now and then.

The other purpose of this is to give the people you care about a little bit of feedback that they can use on their self score card.

We all need to have more authentic connections and these are three great ways to do just that.

They give people a little fodder for their souls. So, let them know…

“I see you.”

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