I was in a beach chair. While enjoying the ocean, I noticed a young girl about age 12, going back and forth to different parts of the beach with five small children under the age of five in tow. She laughed, played in the sand, in the water, encouraged and directed them without complaint. Every 30-45 minutes they would go back up under their canopy with a group of parents, then off she would take them again. I could tell she enjoyed being with the kids. While she was away, I went over asked who the mother was of this young girl. In meeting her I told her she had an amazing daughter and I enjoyed watching the joy she had being with the small children. Her name was Avery and mom said she truly loved being with the kids, it wasn’t a chore for her. It was a short conversation of less than 2 minutes, and I returned to my chair. A little while later, the mother came to my chair and introduced me to Avery, who wanted to meet me. That was a surprise. Avery grinned “ear to ear” when I told her what I’d said to her mother. She thanked me (seriously) for noticing the joy she had with the kids and told me she just loved being with them. When she left, her mother said, “when I told her what you said, she told me “Mom, it makes me want to cry” that someone noticed”.
Both conversations were less than 2 minutes each, but they spoke life into Avery and her mother that day. Recognizing and then saying something is powerful.
On another occasion, I walked to the office of someone who reported to me, but she wasn’t in. I walked around the corner to her team’s cubicles and spoke with two members, who gave me the answer I needed. While speaking with them, I noticed each had a note pinned up on their cubical and the note was from me. I had written to each of them, recognizing and thanking them for their special efforts on a project that I knew had kept them away from their family, but one that was important to our organization. The note wasn’t recent, it was over six months old.
Both notes took less than a couple of minutes to write. In writing a note, I was able to speak life into two members of my team. They knew someone noticed their work.
Throughout my career and life, I always tried to recognize others. Sadly, I can tell story after story of the times I noticed but failed to say something. For each one of those times, I missed an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Do I regret those times? YES!
When we see something, why don’t we take the next step? The two most common are:
- Busyness – We believe we don’t have the time. We’ll say something “the next time”, which usually never comes.
- Significance – We justify in our head that what we recognized, while good, wasn’t important enough for us to say something. Maybe we think “it’s part of their job.”
Never forget, each of us want to be noticed and the only way we know we’ve been is when someone says something, whether it’s verbal or writing.
Follow NIKE’s “Just Do It” campaign. Keep your eyes open to see the efforts of others and then “Just Do It”, i.e., say something to them or write a note. Your words speak life into them.
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)