We were drinking tea. Mine was iced, his was hot, like the conversation. He motioned to the coffee shop door.

“It’s like when I hold the door for someone, I expect them to say thank you. If they don’t, I get upset and I should.”

Have you ever been ticked off when you didn’t get a ‘thank you’? This may sound silly. But it happens a lot in life. We get angry when we don’t get the results we’re after.

But maybe sometimes we do things for the wrong reasons.

I remember complaining about my husband on the phone to my mom when I was newly married. “He never thanks me for doing the laundry.” What she said next almost jolted the folded socks out of my hands. “If you’re doing the laundry because you want him to thank you, then don’t do the laundry.” What?

The question wasn’t why he didn’t appreciate me. The question was- why was I doing the laundry. I was seeking validation. Maybe I should have a better reason for doing the laundry.

Often in leadership, as in life, what we’re talking about is a bit deeper than what we think we’re talking about.

If we take a look at our most valued principles, we see the real issues.

Is it most important for you to be admired or respected? What are you doing to get that from people? And if you decided to change, and place more value on caring and kindness, would it even matter if you were noticed when you did a good deed?

Doing the laundry is an expression of my dedication and commitment. That’s why I do the laundry. I don’t care whether anyone thanks me for it now.

My friend at the coffee shop wanted respect. To end his frustrations, he had two choices.

  1. Stop holding the door, and find a different way to get respect.
  2. Change his perspective and decide to hold the door because it demonstrates what he stands for.

Why do you do what you do? If you are frustrated about your need for validation and respect consider this:

Define what you want to stand for. It takes time and energy. This is why leadership is an ongoing process, a lifelong learning effort. Prioritize your core values, then decide everything you do will be a reflection of those principles.

People can tell what you stand for. So pay attention to why you do what you do! It’ll make you a lot happier. And you might even become a better leader.