The Day 1 Mentality: Using Gratitude to Improve The Employee Experience

Nov 21, 2022

When you hear “Day 1” what is the first thought that comes to you? It doesn’t take a mindreader to know you probably thought about Amazon’s Day 1 mantra. Jeff Bezos introduced the Day 1 mentality not knowing it would spread from Amazon and become a culture staple in the industry. The Day 1 mentality means always treating business like it is brand new. Functioning with the excitement, passion, curiosity, and grit of a start up no matter what phase your company is in. Keeping a Day 1 mentality means the company remains excited to solve and serve, staying consumer focused and up to date with ways to innovate and accelerate the market.

What if we used the same application for a different purpose? What if a Day 1 perspective could solve burnout, dissatisfaction, and disengagement? What if we applied the Day 1 mentality as a tool for gratitude?

Now, let’s add a quick disclaimer before we move on. While there is no one solid definition of gratitude, there are very clear ideas of what gratitude is not. So before you write off the idea of using the Day 1 mentality as a tool for gratitude, let’s release the assumption that gratitude equals over-optimism or universal acceptance. No, gratitude is an opportunity for cognitive reframing and pursuing areas such as your career with greater alignment and perspective.

Back to the good stuff. When we experience gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and increases serotonin, the two primary neurotransmitters that are responsible for a lot of how we show up and contribute as professionals. Dopamine plays a role in our motivational control. It drives our reward seeking actions and helps us avoid non-reward behavior. Serotonin regulates our mood. So while dopamine is driving action, serotonin is driving emotion. The idea of “peak state” or “flow state” where an individual is fully immersed and enjoying what they are doing, that’s dopamine and serotonin doing their thing. All of that comes from using gratitude as a professional tool for success and a positive employee experience.

So how do we implement gratitude into our work day? By starting each day with the same perspective and excitement we had on our first day with the company. When we start a new job, we're committed to making an impact. That means seeking out ways to provide value to initiatives, building trusting bonds with coworkers, and building on the energizing parts of our role. Day 1 gratitude is the difference between responding to a challenge with surrender and responding with inquisitiveness. Day 1 gratitude allows us to celebrate accomplishments instead of expecting and dismissing them. 

What better time than the Thanksgiving season to start implementing a Day 1 attitude of gratitude in the workplace? Challenge your team to flex their gratitude muscles in each of these areas at least once a day:

Internal Gratitude focuses on you, your strengths, your ability, and your personal experiences.

Ex. You’ve been working on being more vocal in cross-departmental conversations. Today, you noticed a potential opportunity to solve a big challenge and voiced it to the group. Acknowledge that your input led to actionable solutions.

External Gratitude focuses on your environment and moments that happen to you.

Ex. Your company is seeing massive growth, and with that growth comes a need to scale internal teams. You are now leading the effort to add 3 members to your department. You recognize this as an opportunity for you to delegate some of your non-energizing responsibilities and re-align with growth within your role.

Shared Gratitude focuses on the part others play in your positive experiences.

Ex. Your team set out for an audacious goal this quarter, and are ending the final weeks ahead of schedule. You show appreciation for the commitment and effort of each team member that contributed to this successful outcome.

Enjoy your new season of gratitude, where everyday is treated with the same excitement, curiosity, and inquisitiveness as Day 1.