Fill Up Your Cup

Does it ever feel like you’re just not being heard or you do something expecting people to give you kudos and you hear crickets? I know I have! It can be so hard to put your heart and soul into something only to feel like you failed because no one noticed. But why do we feel like if no one notices, then we’re a failure? That all that work we did means nothing if we don’t get that “Good job!”?

Feeling like a failure all goes back to the questions “Why did you do that? What was your motivation?” If the answer is, “Because someone told me to” or “So that someone could tell me ‘Good job!’”, then you’ve already set yourself up for feeling disappointed and let down. Because even if you get the kudos you wanted, the good feelings only last for so long and then you’re on the hunt for the next “Good job!”.

Lately, I’ve made it a point to ask myself a simple question before deciding to do something:

“What is my why?”

This simple question has made all the difference. It gives me that time to reflect on what my motivation is to do something. If my answer is “Because it’s something that will make me happy”, then I know I’m on the right track. If my answer is “Because I want recognition”, then I know I need to take a step back and take a deeper look at if that is the right thing for me to do. Sometimes, it’s not so black and white. Sometimes, your answer can be both and that’s ok. At least by taking that time to reflect on your motivation behind your reason for doing something, you go into that situation with clear, more realistic expectations.

By taking that time to figure out your own motivation, it makes it easier when you’re confronted with a situation where others look to you for that “Good job!” or recognition. This can be situations with children, family, friends, or even more formally with employees. This can be a challenging place to be. So what can we do when we’re put in these situations?

The first and most important thing to remember in any situation is that you cannot give from an empty cup. Before you can help others, you must do things that make you happy and fulfilled so that when you give to others it’s from your overflowing cup. All too often, we put others' needs before our own and all that does is leave us exhausted and depleted. In a way, it’s a disservice to everyone involved because we can’t show up for others the way they need us to if we can’t even show up for ourselves with what we need.

Once you’ve filled your own cup and begin to show up for others, it’s important to give others recognition for what they do, but don’t tell them good job just because you know that’s what the expectation is. This can come off as fake or disingenuous. Instead, when you tell someone “Good job!” be sure to include why you think they did a good job. This gives the other person a concrete example of what they did well and what you appreciated about it. Combining the “Good job!” with the why is a much better recipe for providing others with recognition than leaving it open-ended with only a “Good job!”, which can leave a lot of room for interpretation as to why it was good.

In a more formal setting when you’re talking to employees, all the things we’ve already touched on apply, but we can take it a little deeper. When you’re giving your employee’s kudos, there seem to be more layers than just your typical “Good job!” and it seems to be so much more challenging to figure out a method that actually works. The biggest thing I find employers fail to realize is that while an overwhelming percentage of employees (82% of employees to be exact...) say employee recognition is the most important thing to them, they fail to ask the question “Why?”. Why do all these people crave recognition that much? I think the answer to that goes back to what we’ve already discussed. People are looking to others to fill up their cup and not being encouraged to do things for themselves that make them feel happy and fulfilled. So if you do manage employees or have others who look to you for recognition, here are some easy ways you can encourage them to fill up their own cup:

  • Spend time getting to know them as a person and talk to them about positive influences in their life and what they like to do outside of work. Provide opportunities for them to feel like they have time to pursue those passions, which leads me to…

  • Provide a working environment where there is a sense of work-life-balance. If employees are working all the time, they won’t have the time to fill up their cup. If you’re worried this will lead to less progress in your business, you have nothing to worry about! Research shows employees who are happier and less stressed actually have better performance and higher levels of focus. By giving your employees that sense of freedom to pursue their passions outside of work and actually take a real break from work, you’ll actually get better quality work from them.

  • Empower your employees! Trust that they are competent enough to do their job without micromanaging them. You hired them for a reason. Trust that they are capable of doing their job. If they break that trust, then maybe they don’t belong as your employee. You shouldn’t punish all your employees for one person's inability to fulfill their job requirements. Remember, one bad apple can ruin your pie. As hard as it is to throw out that apple you put time and energy into growing, the finished product tastes much better without it!

Lastly, remember this will take time and it will not happen overnight! It took a while to get to this point and it will take some time to figure out how to fill up your cup. Be patient and compassionate with yourself! You got this!

If you liked this post, check out our podcast episode #2 on Filling Up Your Own Up available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, PocketCasts, & RadioPublic. You can also listen to it from our website here!

How often do you catch yourself doing something and thinking to yourself “Wonder how long it will take for someone to notice what I did?” And then inevitably you’ll do something and NO ONE notices. Isn’t that just the WORST?!

But what if it doesn’t have to feel that way?

Ultimately, to avoid that completely uncomfortable feeling, we have to look into the question of why we do things, which can also be equally uncomfortable, but I promise the feeling doesn’t last forever!

The first question I always ask myself before I decide to do anything is “Am I doing this for me or for someone else?” And while at times

Use for blog post:

  • How can you help as a manager?

  • Continue to give employees recognition, but not to the point where it drains you or feels fake. People can sense when you’re being fake.

  • Encourage employees to find what makes them happy.

  • Managers may mention something about WHY it's a good job. Example why.

  • Spend time talking with them about positive influences in their life besides work.

  • Provide employees a sense of work-life balance (next episode)

  • If employees are working all the time, then they don’t have time to fill up their own cup.

  • Provide the opportunity for them to have time for themselves

  • Empower your employees.

  • Trust them that they’re competent enough to do their job without micromanaging them. You hired them for a reason. Trust that they are capable of doing their job. If they break that trust, then maybe they don’t belong in your company.

  • One bad apple can ruin your pie.

  • Remember this will take time. Will not happen overnight. It took a while to get to this point, it’s going to take some time to get out of it.

  • Filling up your own cup also applies to managers. You cannot give to others from an empty cup.

  • Employee Recognition has 2 parts → 1. Giving & 2. Receiving

  • Givers have chance to express gratitude

  • Receivers feel appreciated