It was my last day at the hospital. I was in the cafeteria getting a chocolate long-john, my favorite donut. As I started to walk to my office, a nurse came up and stopped me to talk. She said “Mr. Kreienkamp, I just heard you were leaving. You may not remember me, but I was in the operating room when you came to watch surgeries. I want you to know those were the best weeks we had, he treated us well and I will always remember what you did for us by being there. Thank you!”

I was surprised at what she said, because she was talking about something from many years ago and I didn’t think it was anything special.  The surgeries I was observing were heart surgeries and that wasn’t one of my normal responsibilities. Why did I do that? Because we had a brilliant heart surgeon, the one you would want in the operating room working on you. But, yes it is a big “but”, if you worked with him, the stories were that he didn’t treat you well. We continued to get complaints from the staff about his behavior. After talking with him, multiple times, and always hearing a story so different from the staff, I told him I would come and personally observe.

For two weeks, I scrubbed in and watched him perform open heart surgery. The nurses were kind enough to call me into the room after the patient’s chest cavity was cracked open as they didn’t think I’d appreciate the sounds that accompany the process, and they were right. In those two weeks I witnessed no outbursts and the staff whispered to me “he’s on his best behavior because you are here.”

My actions in visiting the operating room had a positive impact on the staff, and I didn’t know it. The lesson from that day for me, and for you, is we may never know the good we have done for others.

The workplace tends to be a place we look for recognition for our efforts. We want to be noticed. We seek the approval of the person we report to and the affirmation of our peers. If you want to move up in the organization, being recognized is a way increase your chances of getting a new position, a promotion, or to be selected for a special project.

Yet it’s the little things we do, which are often unnoticed, that make a difference to someone. Those who you help will appreciate it and won’t forget what you did.

It might be your willingness to stay late to help a co-worker get something finished for a deadline they needed to meet.

In a meeting, you notice everyone is piling on a co-worker with the criticism of their idea and you decide to say something positive about the idea so that the person isn’t alone.

You take the time to get to know the person who cleans your work area and say “thank you” to them.

When you do good things for others, you are making a difference in their life. Make it a goal to do something good each day, whether it’s noticed or not. God knows, and those you help know and that’s all that matters.

But when you do a kindness to someone, do it secretly—don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. Matthew 6: 3-4 (TLB)

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