Giving Gratitude

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From the time I was young, my mom always made me send thank you cards.  I remember spending hot summer days writing notes to family and friends after my high school graduation under my mom's watchful eye.  When I got married, I decided it was time to delegate and bring my husband along for the fun.  We spent a few Sunday afternoons doing nothing but churning out cards.  Suffice to say we had thank you card burnout for a while after that.

Over the years, I have made it a habit to send an old-fashioned thank you card for gifts and favors.  And while this is a nice gesture, I want to create a habit of sharing gratitude that goes beyond transactional.

Two things prompted my desire to share gratitude in an intentional way.  First, I was going through a box of papers, school things, and cards that my mom saved for me and I found a blank card.  Along with the card was a note from my third grade teacher encouraging me to send the card to someone when I was older (she gave me the card and a journal when I was 18) to thank them for making a difference in my life.  The second thing was a thank you note I received from someone I worked with for many years.  The note was unprompted and so, so thoughtful.  You could tell the words this person shared were genuine and it led me to pause and reflect on the enormity of my decisions and actions on another person.  I realized there were many people who had made a huge impact on my life but I never bothered to tell them, especially not in so thoughtful a way.

I was so moved by these experiences that I decided to start a new habit - sharing unprompted "thank yous" by giving gratitude to the hundreds of people who have given so much to me.  My goal is to start sending one note a week and hopefully increasing over time.  That said, I think quality is more important than quantity in this case.  Each note needs to be genuine, authentic, and meaningful to the person receiving it.  I hope that after they read it, they put it somewhere safe to keep as I did with the note I received this week.  

I sent the first note on Monday morning to a former colleague, thanking them for the leadership lessons they instilled in me early in my career.  While I do not think I am a particularly fun, spontaneous person, I have tried to shift my behavior and leadership style from rigid and serious to more of a work hard, play hard mentality.  Without this person's influence and ability to make the work environment fun, I would not be as comfortable with lighthearted, fun moments as I am today and I wanted them to know how much I appreciate what they taught me.

As you reflect on your career, are there people who have made an impact on you and have you shared this with them?

Posted on February 18, 2018 and filed under Career Insights.