I seldom agree with every point in the countless “self improvement” articles one finds online at business sites. Scott Mautz’s recent Inc.com article on six emails to send each week to boost your success was the rare exception.
Several years ago I made the decision to stop hating email and find ways to use it more effectively and—most importantly—to use it to meet my goals. Mautz’s overall point is similar: that emails can be used proactively to fuel success. I know this sounds implausible for those who may get hundreds or thousands of emails each month and struggle just to manage the volume. But I think he’s on to something.
Emails are often seen as a necessary evil. If you think instead of how they can be used for both real and affirming communication, the connection to this tool and your success becomes clearer. While I encourage you to read Mautz’s article in full, here are my takeaways about the different emails he champions.
1. The summation email — I always value someone who steps forward to pull the various strands of a meeting together, with coherent outcomes and proactive next steps. Don’t assume that the leader of the meeting will do so. It takes a special skill. If you can be the one in your meetings to pull the story together, your value to the team, organization, or company will quickly rise.
2. The email to yourself — Martz’s recommendation here is to make your final email on Friday a note to yourself with one of your core, non-negotiable values in the subject line. The thought is that it will be among the first things you open on Monday morning and you’ll be reminded to be kind, or to collaborate, or whatever else is your value of the week, right out of the box. We can all use reminders, and this is a quick way to focus.
3. The appreciation email and #4 The thank you email — I’m lumping these two together, although Martz has them as separate emails for a very good reason. The appreciation email is to let someone know how much you appreciate their work / effort / attitude or something similar. The thank you email is just like it sounds: to thank someone for doing something for you. As I noted in lesson #59 of the 60 Lessons from 60 Years post, I became intentional several years ago about saying “thank you” to someone every day. Often that happens through email. It is one of the smartest things I ever did. If you follow Martz’s advice, you’ll thank him (and perhaps me).
5. The growth email — I’ve been slow over time to reach out to ask mentors and other friends for advice, or to get together for coffee, or simply to pick their brain. However, in my gap year I’ve increased that type of outreach and it has been very rewarding. I’m simply sorry I took so long to make this a habit.
6. Email a friend for no reason — Relationships are one of the keys to a healthy and happy life. Bernadine Healy, M.D. made the following statement in a May 1994 commencement address at Vassar College:
“As a physician who has been deeply privileged to share the most profound moments of people’s lives, including their final moments, let me tell you a secret. People facing death don’t think about what degrees they have earned, what positions they have held, or how much wealth they have accumulated. At the end, what really matters is who you loved and who loved you. The circle of love is everything and is a good measure of a past life. It is the gift of greatest worth.”
If you drop six emails you are sending out now (and I bet you can identify six each week without much effort), and in their place send out these six emails each week, I agree with Scott Mautz: you’ll directly enhance your prospects for success at work (or in your volunteer capacities, gap year, or retirement years). You’ll also feel better about your life.
Have a great week.
More to come…