Yesterday I was in the middle of facilitating a résumé workshop when I heard the Receptionist over the intercom say, “Kelly Mitchell if you’re in the building would you contact Reception.” Fortunately for me, I was in view of a co-worker who, seeing me look at him and throw up my hands in a helpless gesture, picked up his phone and told them I was not available. I continued on.
It was only a few moments later that I saw standing off to my left the smiling face of a man I’d worked with a couple of month’s back. He’d been one of 12 people who’d accepted an invitation to work with me on an intensive basis over 10 days in the hopes of landing interviews that would lead to employment. He’d been successful too; getting and accepting an invitation to work despite a couple of employment barriers that had previously turned off employers from giving him the chance.
So there he was, a respectable 10 feet outside the area I was in, grinning like a little child, intent on seeing me. There I was too, obviously in the middle of a presentation and fully aware that he wasn’t going without a brief word. Hmm…
Well, I acknowledged him by first apologizing to the group and waved hello, telling him I was just in the middle of a presentation. To me he said, “I know, I just stopped by to thank you again for your help.” “Things are going well then?” I asked. At this point he said that things were going great and that the resume and job search tips had paid off. It was at this point that I realized there was a real win-win-win situation here to take advantage of.
Yes, you guessed it. I waved him in for a moment and now in full view of the people in the workshop, I asked him to repeat what he’d just said. Well it was a real endorsement of my skills and the information I was sharing with the participants that I couldn’t have planned any better had I tried. With his grin and kind words, he told us assembled that not only was the job going well, he had since accepting that first job, a total of 6 companies contact him for job interviews, and he was very close to getting an extremely good job; one that he’d been hoping for as a long-term goal I’d previously known of. “The résumé works! I change it for the jobs I’m going for and it’s really made a difference.” Then with a handshake and some last good wishes, he was gone.
If you believe I’m sharing this with you for the purpose of saying how great I am, you’re missing the point; completely and utterly. His generous act of gratitude and thanks says more of him than it does for me. That same information you see that I shared with him, I’d shared with others, and continue to share. I am so happy for him but also so proud of him, for not only his success but in how he’s going about things now. Dropping in for the sole purpose of expressing his gratitude, feeling that he wanted to say thanks in person and knowing the impact it would have on me.
Of course, I brought him in largely to show to the group that the ideas I was sharing really do work. I mean, here before them was a bona-fide success story that they could replicate for themselves if they applied the same ideas and concepts in their own situations. Oh and believe me, the room lit up, the energy shot up in the room and everyone was smiling. When I said after he left that I hoped they didn’t mind the interruption, that it was so good to see him so happy, they simultaneously and to a person indicated it was more than okay.
In attendance I also had a co-worker who was sitting in to improve her own confidence helping people with their resumes. A long-time Employment Consultant, she wanted to both see and hear my presentation and from there use the same resources I made to help others. So you can imagine how wonderful it was for me to have this unexpected visit and expression of both gratitude and success in front of her.
So I felt great, the participants and my co-worker had proof before them the ideas work, and the gentleman himself left feeling good in having accomplished what he wanted to do; see me and extend a heartfelt thank you.
No matter how hard we work, how many successes we have, how many people we see, we all need those moments when others acknowledge what we do and express their appreciation. His act of kindness and the impact on me will last some time.
I urge you to do likewise when the opportunities present themselves. Genuine gratitude is always welcomed and could come exactly when needed most for some people. We all like to think we make a difference in this field of social work, that we’re having a real positive impact on the lives of others. Sincere acts of gratitude like I’ve described here reinforce that belief and give us encouragement to do more, give more and strive for more. He couldn’t have given me a more precious gift than his thanks.