I received a lovely email yesterday morning. I was up and stumbled to the computer - it takes me longer to get over jet lag than it used to - and checked to see if any emails had come in overnight. Only one had. It was a letter from a woman I'd never met who wrote simply to tell me how my writing and my lectures had enhanced her career and her care of the people she served. It was a lovely note, written for no other purpose than to let me know that what I had done mattered.
I sat, bleary-eyed, reading her note. I was unutterably touched by her words and the sentiment that she expressed. But what really struck me was that she simply didn't have to write it. She could have just gone on, thinking nice thoughts when she heard my name, and yet done nothing. Oddly, even though I was incredibly enriched by her note, I wouldn't have missed it if it hadn't come. I wouldn't have sat at the computer and thought ... harrumph, another day when she could have thanked me but didn't.
This made me think about the power of 'thank you' ... the power that comes with expressing positive or powerful feelings to those who may just need to hear them. I know that over the last few years I have tried to be more intentional in being thankful 'out loud'. After I became a supervisor, I wanted to be the kind that made sure my staff knew that they were appreciated and their efforts acknowledged. I don't know if I always achieve that but I do consciously try.
We were out with friends on Sunday for a Mother's Day lunch that we were invited along to. We were being served by a young woman who was working so incredibly hard. Every table wanted everything perfect, every child at every table wanted a wee bit of her attention. Her work, that day, was both physically and psychologically draining. She managed, with us and with others, to be personable, approachable and, of course, quick.
When we were leaving I stopped and told her how much I appreciated how she had managed our little group and how I noticed her care for others at other tables. I immediately felt badly because her eyes filled with tears. She said that she hadn't been thanked, once, all day. Tips were wonderful, she said, but it's nice to be spoken to as a person who is trying hard to do a good job.
And it's true.
I'm going to stop now - there's a person or two I have to write an email to ...