Gratitude as a Practice

The Recharge America team that resides in REACH Strategies can make fun of me for it, but very often my days start around 4:00 AM. It’s a good time to get stuff done. I start by first feeding my small farm of household pets (two cats and a dog), make coffee (weak, since I’ll drink a pot of it during most days), and clean the kitchen. Next, I’ll spend some time focusing on the key idea that the work we do is fundamentally about service. Only then will I slowly shift to opening e-mails, Slack, to do lists, workplans, budgets, staffing, HR, program work and the other tasks that I imagine are part of the daily to do list for virtually everybody who supports a team.

At a certain point in my life, I would have been confounded by the idea of starting a day at 4:00 AM. With a growing group of team members located across every part of the country, I’ve come to find that it’s a sweet and vitally important window in the day.

Within a couple of hours my daughter will start rustling about as she sets her 12-year-old self on the path to another day in 7th grade. I’ll make sure she’s top priority as we sort that and head to school. Immediately after my typical call schedule will start.

Most weeks I’ll be calendared for 20-30 calls/meetings within workdays, and occasionally an evening EV educational event that we’ll deliver in some part of the country. REACH and Recharge America are growing, our work becoming more sophisticated, and our team becoming impressively ever more capable — by the day, it seems. It keeps me busy.

Over the past months I’ve really focused on ensuring that my personal frame for that overall experience is gratitude. This list of projects, tasks and relating to and managing people in and around them is not what I have to do. It’s what I get to do. It’s a privilege to do this work.

That perspective makes an enormous difference for me in helping ground my work each day in concepts that materially improve my overall health and wellness and, hopefully, make me a better co-worker: service to others instead of self, optimism instead of fear, and hope for the future instead of hatred or hostility for “others” in the present.

While that might seem like a simple shift, maintaining it, at least for me, isn’t particularly easy. It’s too easy to spend too much time consuming a flood of media and witnessing individual choices that are driven by fear and its terrible partners — rampant self-centeredness that too often yields heart-rending hatred and hostility. For me, gently shifting from that point of view requires daily practice.

There’s no question to me that that shift is also mirrored in the work REACH prioritizes, the organizations it attracts as partners and the people that choose to make this place their professional home. We’re getting clearer about gratitude as a practice at REACH, and it’s making a world of difference.

It starts with how we prioritize projects.

We are deeply committed to do our small part in helping foster a world that is safer, healthier, and ever more full of opportunity for us all.

We’ve become national leaders in one aspect of that transition — the electrification of vehicles and the broader positive implications of harnessing clean electricity to power our economy.

Our framework for the work underscores our overall approach to projects here at REACH:

Why?

Because the transition will unlock unprecedented opportunities for people everywhere even as we accomplish crucial goals for cleaning our environment.

How do we do that?

By introducing that opportunity to every household everywhere, one conversation at a time.

Who partners with us on that journey?

Agencies, companies, and entities that align with us on the basic premise that a broadly electrified economy should benefit everybody, not just the few.

Why is that important?

Because introducing people to an opportunity that can help them accomplish their goals rather than driving them with anything negative (like fear over a catastrophic future) is a better, more durable way to facilitate positive change.

What are the results?

We field some of the highest performing engagement campaigns related to EVs in the country.

How do we know?

We are rigorous data practitioners and use constant field feedback from our work to guide our choices.

What has that meant?

We are growing as a team and in our strategic sensibilities as data combined with field experience help us sharpen our focus and become more effective in delivering work that yields results.

It’s a deeply synergistic process. You could potentially roll the entire enterprise up in one word — gratitude. We focus on opportunity, how it can help everybody, and we’re so thankful that so much opportunity is ahead we can’t help talking about it.

That approach is mirrored internally.

We have teams sorting out our culture as we grow, we run staff meetings where we start by checking in with each other and ourselves about our lives first and then the work. We prioritize collaboration, clarity, and making sure we deliver for our clients and each other. We value one another as much as ourselves and have seen how powerful that sensibility can be in helping shape and guide who chooses to work here. We celebrate victories with an internal #kudos Slack channel and our #cutecreatures in another, both concepts first forwarded by team members keen on ensuring that REACH serves its team members with the same focus on excellence that we bring to our partners.

Sustaining this approach isn’t easy.

We’re extremely busy, our partners address real challenges every day, and we work to show up with our best efforts always regardless of how difficult circumstances might get. Moreover, we’re growing, which means we have to be committed to learning. Again, working in a growth environment where colleagues commit to helping each other learn (myself included) isn’t easy, and it isn’t always for everybody.

But it appears that it is for us.

And goodness gracious it makes quite a difference.

CEO letters reflecting on a year behind and the path ahead maybe should be grounded in market data, performance metrics, and KPI benchmarks. Certainly, we have all of that at REACH in our amazing assortment of planning spreadsheets. But more and more I’m  coming to believe that as important as those clarifying tools can be, being too focused there might introduce a little too much noise.

It might be more important to simply say what’s true, even if it isn’t easy to always maintain.

We’re grateful.

We’re grateful to be a group of team members who get the chance to grow and work together doing things that are vitally important.

I’m grateful to get to be part of that process and support that work.

And we’re committed to keeping gratitude at the center of our practice.

Gratitude is becoming our practice, and it’s making a world of difference.

Sending good thoughts for a safe, healthy, happy and productive 2022 for us all.

 

Kirk Brown

CEO | REACH Strategies
CEO | Recharge America

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