Thankfulness And Gratitude


I make a conscious effort to express my thankfulness to people in my workplace on a regular basis. Sure it takes some thought, it takes some empathy and it requires some action on my part. “Hey so-and-so, thanks for what you did just now. I really appreciate it.” There. Done. It takes some thought, empathy and action but not much. But the effect? Impactful.

Now, sure being thankful is on my mind with Thanksgiving upon us this weekend. May I suggest and hopefully encourage you to spread a little thanks around yourself at work today and tomorrow, if not the entire year.

Thank you Roxann, my Team Clerk who works diligently each day, providing myself and the team with administrative support. Roxann makes it possible for us to focus on what we do by taking care of things behind the scene. She’s often pulled in many directions, some days stretched pretty thin, but always finds a way to come through.

Thank you Trevor, who for over 11 years shared an office with me until this week when he switched his role in the organization. Together we shared so much, professionally and personally and the impact you had on me each day is hard to measure but I’m glad I was wise enough to appreciate you and tell you every so often rather than waiting until now.

Thank you Terri, another team member of mine, who has both her heart and her head in the right place. Like me, you’ve come to the employment counselling role later in life with a rich background of jobs and past careers. I am so grateful for having you in my life and having the privilege to work alongside you.

Thank you Sherry who puts up with my, ‘dad’ jokes, supports me with a compassionate ear and every so often just accepts a hug when given to her. Having worked together briefly as Caseworkers and then Employment Counsellors, we’ve shared a lot of frustration and success but always been there in the important ways for each other. Again, big heart.

Thank you Kathleen, the single best Supervisor with whom I ever had the pleasure of working with. Under your leadership and supportive guidance, I learned to be flexible, became a better employee and by consequence, a better human being. You know how much I value you because I made sure you heard it often enough. Thanks for never shutting down my innovative creativity; even though we know there were times you were saturated with yet another new idea of mine.

Thanks Nataliya, for the consistent, high quality customer service you provide me with when I’ve got a technical need. But more than that, thanks for opening up, sharing and trusting in me. We need more people like you who are both good at what they do and always have serving others the best they can in mind.

Thank you Kelly, my former Manager and now Director, for two distinct gifts you taught me. First, I have always been struck by your routine of turning away from your computer and turning 100% of your body to me when we talk. I’ve copied that and I know it’s value. Second, you always lobby and advocate for those who need a voice most; those we serve, and that’s so important for all of us on the front line to know; you believe in us.

Thanks Rochelle, who has remembered me each and every year on my birthday with an email. Thanks for your past, present and ongoing support, kindness and your way with words. Following your passion is Rochelle all over, and your love of writing is something I can truly appreciate.

Thanks Dave, who is one of the truly great ones. Dave who works with a Servant Leadership style akin to my own. Dave, for whom I look up to with great respect, not only for working every day with service excellence as his legacy, but who does so with grace, humility and compassion. You my friend, are so appreciated and held in the highest regard. And Dave, you’ll get where you want to be; I believe that.

Thank you Leena, Mairna, George, Carl, Bill, Alexandra, and all the other people who welcomed me to walk alongside you for a brief time on your own life’s journeys. It takes a wise person to reach out for help and an even wiser person to accept help when it’s offered to them. You each touch me in profound ways, change me hopefully for the better and for that I am extremely grateful.

Thank you Gayle, Dale, Steven, James, Sherrie, Mike and so many others I can’t list you all; you out there in my readership. When you comment on or like some piece of mine, I feel encouraged to continue. Although we’ve never met in person, I see your faces on your profiles, read your words with appreciation and feel were we to meet one day, we’d shake hands, sit down and talk like we’re old friends. Your communities are fortunate indeed to have you.

So, if I may, make a point of thanking some of those you come into contact with today, tomorrow and each day. Thanksgiving is a good reason to start, even if you feel at the moment you’ve got little to be thankful for. When you look for things to be thankful for, you’ll attract more reasons to be grateful.

A Huge Thank You … To You!


So today’s blog might not, on the surface, appear to help you get a job or keep a job. However, if you take a moment to pause and think, the behaviours I’m going to applaud and recognize are of the kind that will help you in your own workplaces.

And so it is today that I want to use my blog to express my sincere gratitude to those who have in the past taken the time necessary to post a comment after reading a blog entry. I have to say, the impact of your thoughtfulness and kindness is significant and extremely appreciated.

You see I know that as I strive for 900 words in each piece, that represents a commitment of time to get through the article. I’m not sure why I initially hit on 900 words as a daily goal; it just seemed in those first early blogs that it took that long to convey the messages intended. 900 words for the reader was enough to get in to a topic without being overly time consuming. So yes, to read my blog takes time, and I am grateful for all my readers; exceptionally so. I’ve found with bytes and brevity abounding around us in these times, not everyone has the attention spans they used to. Maybe for many 900 is actually too long?

Hence it is that after having read a piece of my thoughts, you can see that those who take a few moments and leave a comment leave me a tremendous gift; a gift I recognize as such and truly appreciate. I don’t necessarily envy the celebrities who have thousands of replies and comments whenever they post something, but I have had spikes where my daily readership increases, and where the comments are more plentiful than other days. I will admit while it’s not jealously or envy, I do love those days when there’s more activity than usual. I think this is to be expected.

So this one is for you the readers. Whenever you take the time to read my blog and if you so choose to go further and rate the piece or leave a comment, you also say something about yourself as much as you do the piece. You demonstrate appreciation and with your input you participate. How disheartening it would be to write day after day and have no ratings, no comments, no indication that anyone was listening or had any appreciation for what I was sharing! This is not only true for me of course, but for others you follow or pieces of theirs you read; maybe for yourself if you’re a writer, a blogger, a novelist.

There are those such as James, Gayle and Dave who are in my audience daily. There are those like Rochelle and Rhiannon who don’t comment frequently but when they do it’s significant and from the heart. There are those who are new followers, some who were with me right from the start back in February of 2012, and of course many who are attracted through LinkedIn posts in addition to my personal blog.

I have to stress how grateful I am to all of those – to you as well (yes you reading these words here and now) who make up my readership. One of the nicest things many of you do is gift me your time in reading a piece, leaving a short comment and then there are those who pass on the blog to someone in their audience. When I learn that the thoughts for a day have been shared beyond my own sites, it’s another moment of gratitude at my end. To be deemed worthy enough of sharing with your own readers in your own circles is a very great privilege I recognize.

And so you see it’s important for me to practice my own gratitude; the behaviour which I so often suggest to others is highly desirable. When you and I express our gratitude for the kindness of others, we say a lot about ourselves. Think about your recent past and recall if you can the moments when you personally thanked someone. Now, how did they receive and respond to your thoughtful words of appreciation? It’s my hope they in turn expressed their thanks. Unfortunate indeed if they brushed it off as nothing. They likely didn’t mean it by the way if they did.

Whether a co-worker, someone in management, a customer or client, a resident or patient, a child or a student; whomever you come into contact with, everyone is potentially someone we could thank for something given. Are you grateful for the student who appreciates your guidance, the patient who’s trust you’ve earned in treating them, perhaps the co-worker who backs you up every so often. Maybe you’re grateful for the customers that keep your doors open and spread the news about your services and products.

When you think about it, there’s so many people to not only be grateful for, but who are worthy of actually being told how they’d touched you. I know that it’s a busy world and social media has added one more thing when we have so many things vying for our time and attention. It’s precisely because of these demands on our time – on your time – that it’s important that I express my thanks to let you know how truly I appreciate you my readers.

So THANK YOU!

 

 

The Hand-Written Thank You Note


How many of you have recently wrote a hand-written thank you note? Hands up out there. Hmm… not many; no not many indeed.

Okay, another question if I may. The last time you received a note of thanks from someone expressing their gratitude, how did it make you feel?

Interesting isn’t it? You enjoy receiving but aren’t doing the giving. Now of course many of you out there might just be the kind of people who are very thankful and gracious with your words of thanks, it’s just that your saying them face-to-face or in an email. After all email is so convenient, accessible and immediate. You can dash off an email expresses thanks in the same time it would take to put on your coat and find your car keys. That trip to the stationery store to buy a card just seems so unnecessary.

I admit the card of thanks takes more effort. Yes, you have to go to the store, pick out a card or a set of cards that expresses thanks but doesn’t communicate the wrong message with some flowery verse on the inside. Then there’s paying for the cards, (because email is free), and if you misspell a word as you write in pen, there’s no delete button to quickly erase your error. Then there’s the exorbitant cost of a postage stamp, addressing the envelope, the trip to a mailbox. Just too much effort!

Or is it?

Think for a moment what someone has done for you in the first place for which you might be contemplating issuing words of thanks. I suspect what they’ve done, or what they continue to do is worth a bit more than the total cost of an envelope, card, postage stamp and your time. In fact, I’d wager your effort and words of thanks pale mightily in comparison. Too much effort on your part? How unfortunate if you feel this way.

The thank you card could be composed and presented to any number of people and for many reasons. Here’s a few to inspire some action on your part:

  • An interviewer after a job interview
  • A co-worker who has your back when work piles up
  • Your Administrative Clerk; the one who ‘does everything’ for you
  • Your job search references; those who back your credentials
  • The Barista who makes your every morning must-have
  • The Teacher who instructs your child
  • The Child Care Provider who nurtures your child
  • Your neighbour who looks out for you in your absence
  • The Receptionist who greeted you on interview day

That’s a lot of people you COULD be thanking. Better get a stack of cards when you’re out and save yourself a lot of return trips. If you look over that list by the way, you’ll note I hope that not a single note of thanks requires postage at all. Nope, each one can be hand-delivered.

The thing about a note of thanks is that it is short and yet powerful; so powerful in fact that many people will hang on to notes of thanks long after they’ve been received. An email of thanks by comparison may be read and deleted in the same day, or immediately after the person replies with a ‘Thanks’.  Then they switch gears and get on with their day.

I give my job seekers with 5 cards of thanks – blank on the inside – and 5 envelopes. I recommend they make use of them and there’s more available if they need them. Sadly, many don’t even issue one. Those that do however, find them surprisingly effective. Oddly enough, they feel better too when the person expresses thanks and a little shock at having received one.

Take your references as an example of people to thank. These are the people you provide to a potential employer as those who will attest to your work ethic, accomplishments, personality, teamwork, etc. After you’ve done your best to wow an employer, they are the ones who will either close the deal or raise some doubt on your application. Suddenly I think your protest that a card of thanks being too much work is failing miserably.

“Just  a few words of appreciation for standing with me as a valued reference. As I transition to a new place, I’m grateful to have your support.”

Now honestly, how long do you think that would take for you to write? Time surely then, can’t be your argument for not writing one, and we’ve already talked about the cost.

So if time and money aren’t the real reasons, we’re left with you don’t know what to say – see example above – or you just can’t be bothered – which means you truly aren’t that grateful. You could have literacy issues I suppose, which I grant.

Need another example? Okay…

Thank you for meeting with me this afternoon. I found our interview informative and enlightening. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work together and look forward to this with enthusiasm. I am excited about the next step in the hiring process.

Short and to the point. Come on people, you can do this. You’re looking for an edge over your competition aren’t you? Don’t be the candidate who just goes home and waits for the phone to ring. You can pen this one sitting in reception and hand it in right after the interview to the Receptionist.

Or not.

Thanks For The Social Services Caseworker


If you’re fortunate to live in a community that provides financial and social assistance to its most vulnerable citizens, then you’ve also got a number of people tasked with providing that same service. These people may have varying titles, but for the purposes of identification, let’s call them Caseworkers. More about that name later, but for now, Caseworkers it is.

It may well be that your own upbringing never brought you into contact with any Social Service organization; you may have no personal contact with or real understanding of the role these people play. This would mean you’ve been raised in a self-supporting family and never required the support the social services safety net provides. From an economic point of view, the fewer people who turn to these supports the better; the resources are more readily available for those who truly need them, for those unable to financially support themselves.

Administering these benefits are the Caseworkers; working within and under the legislative guidelines set out by governments. But if you leave it at that, you’ve got a very limited view of what a Caseworker does. Caseworkers you see, are in the people business. This is a role of privilege and responsibility; one that most Caseworkers carry out with gratitude for the opportunity. It may not have occurred to you should you outside the field, but the people who work in these roles are a special bunch.

You see as much as we know the role is a privilege, it’s disheartening to hear that same word used in a derogatory way when people say, “Oh those government workers are a privileged bunch!” A government worker is a public servant, and serve we do.

The Caseworker is tasked with ensuring that people initially meet the established standards in qualifying for financial help, and then ensuring each month that they continue to do so. While the number of people and families served by any one person varies, it would not be atypical for a Caseworker to have 175 files representing some 325 people at any given time. That’s a lot of people to serve on a monthly basis! Given each day the Caseworker might see 3 or 4 in-person for an update, talk on the phone to 15 – 20, respond to letters and faxes and the odd person who drops in unannounced, there’s a need to be highly organized, efficient and time-management conscious. Now add in some ongoing training, team meetings, breaks and a lunch and suddenly you get an idea of how their day goes. You might understand how frustrating it is then to have people then complain to the Caseworker, “You never pick up the phone when I call. What are you doing all day?”

The job also comes with expectations from top down too. There are Supervisors monitoring caseload management, doing random file reviews, following up on client contact with Caseworkers, reports that tell how on top of things a Caseworker is, the various benefits each Caseworker has issued, where they might have some updates overdue. Then the legislation that dictates how the job is done changes periodically, and more training is scheduled. Every so often the technology itself is overhauled and like it or not, there’s another entire computer software system to learn.

And you know what? Caseworkers didn’t choose to get into the job to do any of the above. What they did sign up for when they went to University or College was to help people. What they envisioned was sitting down, listening to people express their challenges and then providing support and encouragement; helping people help themselves. With this job there’s an unexpected emotional toll too. The Caseworker hears and feels the worse in human nature; rape, abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, zero financial literacy, loss of self-esteem, growing anxieties and depression, shame, guilt and yes despair. Caseworkers have to both steel themselves against taking on the suffering heard yet empathizing enough to fully appreciate the hardships of those served. It’s a fine balance.

Yet, for all the troubles and challenges, administration and tight timelines, the Caseworkers are a positive bunch; some of the most caring and wonderful people you could hope to meet. They are often the first people who come to mind by those on their caseload when there’s trouble; this is the privilege. Caseworkers see the breakthroughs, the changing attitudes, hear the joy of landing job interviews and announcing new jobs! We congratulate those moving to financially supporting themselves because we know just what it’s taken for many to make it.

Like any field, sure there will be some employees who are better at the job than others. You may hear someone complain about their own Caseworker but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the objective story. Besides, go ahead and name any job where every single person who holds it is identically excellent in every way. You can’t, and Casework is no different.

A big thank you to Caseworkers everywhere; be they anywhere on this planet of ours. While you may not expect or ask to be thanked by those you serve, may you who hold it always be blessed with some who express their sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you do. It might only be a handshake and a nod or maybe you’ll get a personal note to be treasured expressing words of thanks.

Keep up the good work, for even we only get a glimpse of what life is really like for those we serve.

A Newborn And The Helping Hands


On Thursday March 29th, I became a Grandfather. That’s Grandfather with a capital, ‘G’ whether it’s grammatically correct or not. It’s my latest job title, though I’ve decided my LinkedIn profile will not be updated to show this new role just as I’ve neglected to add Spouse or Father. Still, these are my 3 most significant job titles I’ve ever held.

He’s a beautiful boy and healthy too. The day I met him with my wife and in the ensuing few days at the hospital, I started thinking about all the various people who were connected professionally with this little guy and his parents. Yes I was thinking about the occupations connected with giving him a good start in the world; and of course, he’s but a single baby. Extrapolate the numbers that follow over thousands upon thousands of births worldwide and you’ve got a whole host of people employed!

There’s the nursing team which is so much more than the single Nurse who I happened to see. He was after all in the hospital 4 days, and so exactly how many came and went I’ve no idea, but let’s conservatively say he had 5. If I took the time to ask, I’d likely find that these Nurses were slightly different in their roles too. I observed there were cleaning staff there too, who ensured vacated rooms next to my daughter and son-in-laws were disinfected, bed made anew and ready for the next expectant mom.

All the furniture in that room, including the bed, table and two chairs, the technical equipment, buzzers, lighting, floor tiles, drywall, plaster, paint, toilet, shower, plumbing, electrical wiring – these don’t appear by magic. There are people we never see and seldom think to thank who make all these things.

There’s the medical team expanding beyond the Nurses I saw. Doctors of course, Lab Technicians, people who take and test blood samples as well as others who read and relay results. In this birth, there was the Midwife too, and she played a role both before, during and post-delivery – visiting the mom and baby in their home 3x too.

Given that we spent some time at that hospital, I wandered the halls and found to my surprise that the main floor might be mistaken for a shopping mall. There was a Tim Horton’s, Subway, Fresshi, plus 4 or 5 other eating places I can’t recall. There was a florist, a gift shop, an information centre, security and all these stores were buzzing with activity requiring multiple employees.

Now my daughter and son-in-law have landed themselves in a caring neighbourhood. One day I sat holding my grandson and noticed someone walking up to their front door. There was no knock, and then I saw the person turn around and walk away. Turns out a neighbour dropped off a brown bag of groceries including a bottle of wine and a speciality bread plus some other goodies. So there are merchants benefitting from these extra purchases. Included was a card of congratulations, so again, another merchant benefitted. Somebody produced that card, wrote the message inside and made the artwork on front. Somebody made the glass bottle for the wine, another person grew the grapes etc.

Now me? I was sent out to buy formula which hadn’t been planned on needing. Good luck finding an open store on Easter Sunday that carried the specific brand, size and type requested. Three stores later I came home with the right stuff. The next day I returned it as it was a bigger size than asked for, and again off to yet another store to get the right product. Sigh… Still, more people making and selling products.

Coming in at 11 pounds, the ‘little’ guy was too big for many of the clothes and receiving blankets at the ready. So off my wife and I went yet again to buy bigger outfits and blankets. “And say dad while you’re out, would you mind doing the grocery shopping? There’s a list on the table of stuff we’d like and some extra items to buy if on sale. Thanks. We really appreciate it.” Ah, nice to be useful and of help, and more people connected with this birth from the clothes manufacturers, Farmers, Grocers, Cashiers, Stockers, Truck Drivers to deliver the goods, Border Agents to screen them entering Ontario.

There’s an endless list it seems. After all, who made the crib, car seat, bassinet, mattress, blankets, toys, books, stuffed animals, recliner, dresser, bureau etc. that make up the baby’s room? There’s the monitor – you get the idea.

So far the little guy is what, 8 days old? He’s already helped keep an army of people employed and will continue to do so as he grows, goes to daycare, school, joins groups and perhaps the band, sports teams, a choir, who knows?

Indulge me here, I’m a proud Father and proud Grandfather. It’s been a rough go for my daughter and my son-in-law. Lots of sleepless nights getting up for feedings and dealing with this major surgery. They’ll get through it though I’m sure. We all figure it out don’t we?

Let me close with a big thank you to all involved not just in helping make entering this world safer and easier for my grandson, but for all the little ones born elsewhere. Oh and the Butcher that gave my daughter an extra slice of meat when she came in and was obviously expecting, thanks to you too!

Who Doesn’t Like Being Appreciated?


“I really enjoy working with you. Thanks for that.”

“You’re doing a great job; well done.”

“Thanks for your help. I appreciate your support.”

If you’re not saying these things, or comments similar to them to those around you, may I suggest you consider doing so. After all, who doesn’t like hearing a few words of appreciation for the things they do? Personally, I can’t think of a single person.

Showing gratitude for others; the work they do or just their presence is something you probably don’t want to take for granted. You know those sayings about not appreciating something until it’s taken away from you? Well, there’s a good reason people say those things, because eventually, you might find you miss that person more than you’d have guessed.

I’ll let you in on something I’ve come to realize. Words of thanks and appreciation are welcomed at any time, but when they have the most impact is when they come when least expected. Sure a person is likely to hear words of thanks and appreciation when they’ve won some award or reached some big milestone, but at those times, it seems everyone is in congratulatory mode. So, add your voice at these times, but all I’m saying is your words come at a time when many join them.

Ah, but it’s in those everyday moments when a person is busy doing the regular stuff that comes with no fanfare and no particular achievement that a sincere expression of appreciation for someone may catch them off guard and have a bigger impact. And while your words of appreciation should be intended to make someone else feel good about themselves, noting the good works of others and expressing thanks can put some goodwill in their minds about you too. Getting a reputation for being appreciative of others first and secondly for the work they do is a good thing.

Often your appreciation can be for small things that make your own day better, easier or more enjoyable. So you might thank a your clerical support for anticipating supply shortages and always taking steps to reorder things so you never run out. You see while you take for granted that they’ll always be staples and paperclips to be had, they don’t just magically appear. That person who stays on top of these things so you and your teammates always have them when you need them might appreciate the fact that you actually took a moment to recognize their diligence.

There’s a lot of these little things too; it just requires us to look around for such things and then ask ourselves who the people are that do all these little things that improve our working conditions. Maybe your workplace is a little brighter because of the person who heads your social committee, or the person who regularly fills the photocopiers and ink cartridges on the colour printers.

Maybe you can express appreciation to the Receptionist who does his or her best to diffuse the anger or frustration of clients on a regular basis before they meet you. After all, they are the first point-of-contact and take the brunt often for things they have little or no control over. If they weren’t there or didn’t diffuse things well, your job might be a little less enjoyable.

Could be too that you’re in a position of authority and power. While yearly appraisals are one way to let someone know how much they are appreciated for the work they do, it can be powerfully effective to stop by unexpected, sit down for a 4 or 5 minute personal chat and just let someone know how much you appreciate their overall work ethic, their reliability, how they encouraged a co-worker going through something recently, or just the positivity they bring daily.

Books, movies and songs are full of instances where someone regrets not having said words of appreciation and thanks. Then what happens is someone dies, moves away, dates or marries somebody else – well, you get the picture; opportunities missed. Be it, “I love you”, “Thanks for everything you do”, or a thank you for something specific, you don’t want to be the person lamenting, “I never got to tell him/her how much I appreciated them.” Well sure you did, you just didn’t.

Now it might not come naturally to you to say words of appreciation. While some of us can’t understand why it’s so difficult, believe me, for some it just is. I tell you though, if you’re in a place where you should be regularly appreciating the work of subordinates and you don’t, I sure hope you aren’t surprised if over time those same people lose some of their momentum. Good people do good works generally because it’s ingrained in them to act in such ways. However, everybody without exception likes to hear that their good work is noted and appreciated.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you my readers. While I write to inform and help support people looking for employment, finding the right career etc., I can tell you the comments I get from time-to-time and the ‘likes’ I get are greatly appreciated. Sure we might not always agree, but like anyone else, I am grateful for those who write a few words of thanks, for they are treasured.

Try a few words of thanks today for the good works of others.

 

 

A Simple Act Of Gratitude


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.

Appreciating Co-Workers


May the 16th isn’t, “Co-worker Appreciation Day”. Come to think of it I don’t know that there is such a day, although if there is I’m confident someone will point it out to me. Good thing actually in my opinion; I mean do we really need a day to remind us to appreciate the good in those we work alongside throughout the year?

Maybe the answer to that question is yes. I mean we have a day for Administrative Professionals called Secretaries’ day in some jurisdictions. That’s often when the various Supervisors in organizations get the Administrative team members out for lunch in our organization and an email goes out reminding us all to show some gratitude for the support we receive.

Seems to me that real gratitude should come from people without reminding or prompting, and it should come throughout the year not just on a specific day on a calendar. However, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it’s a day of celebration and I’m certainly not going to suggest we abolish any of these. Some people do need a reminder to say thanks, whether it’s for a parent or those in the workplace.

I wonder though if we do enough of a good job thanking those we work with for being the people they are; for making our own workplaces more enjoyable places to work. Our co-workers do make our places of employment more enjoyable don’t they? If you can’t think of anyone where you work who deserves a word of thanks, could be its high time you moved on. Good co-workers are first and foremost good people and good people are a treasure to surround yourself by.

It’s these people who ask how your day is going, who mean it when they say you seem different from your normal self and ask if there’s anything wrong or something they can do. These are the ones that celebrate your birthday, tell you to go easy on the days you’re not at your best, and cover for you as best they can when you’re away. If you’re lucky, you come back after vacations to find less work on your plate than you might have otherwise accumulated.

Your co-workers are the ones who support you and compliment you on the quality of work you do. Count yourself fortunate if you share your personal workspace with someone who you see as integral to influencing the kind of worker you’ve become. They might mentor you officially or not, but the way they go about their business surely rubs off on you to a lesser or greater degree. When it’s them on their holiday, doesn’t your work area miss them? Isn’t there a big part of you that truly hopes that they are really enjoying their time no matter what it is they are doing? You know how much they put in when at work and so you wish them sunshine, good weather, lots of reasons to smile and laugh. Most of all you hope they come back feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and you’re one of the first to ask how they enjoyed the time off.

If you haven’t really given much thought to the one who shares your space, just imagine walking in and learning they or you will be relocating to another part of the building. Even if you enjoy change and the idea of working in close proximity with someone new is appealing, hopefully part of you acknowledges the good times you’ve shared together and is grateful for those moments.

In my case, I’ve shared my two-person office with the same person for 10 years now. Wow! 10 years! I’m very appreciative of him and know the positive impact we have on each other’s performance. Even when we swing our chairs around and talk of our families, sports news, plans for the weekend or vacation plans, it’s all productive time. It might not seem productive of course to others, but building and nurturing a relationship with someone you spend this much time with has to improve your working relationship tremendously.

The time will eventually come when one or both of us moves on, either to another place in the office we work at or to another site completely. While the change will be good and the new office mate welcomed, the relationship we have together will never be truly replicated. I’m grateful in the here and now and I know he is too; and that’s significant to note.

The others I work with, be they on my team, at reception, my Supervisor, those on other teams of course are all important too. If I were building my, ‘dream team’, I’d count many of these people among those I want on board. Of course it’s not that every single person has to be a, ‘best buddy’ or a close working associate. I imagine I’m not on every single co-worker’s list if they assembled their dream team either. That would be unreasonable to expect. However, what is important is that each person get their due of credit for what they do contribute.

Consider thanking those you work with not just for a day but each day. What might you point out that you appreciate in your co-workers. Could be the word of thanks you pass on is just what they needed to hear. These people you work alongside make your workplace what it is.

A Nod Of Thanks To The Invisible Ones


Jobs; there are good ones and bad ones. Then again, what I think is a good job might be one you’d rather not do or absolutely run away from. You have no doubt jobs and occupations you believe to be menial or stimulating, worthwhile or nothing but a waste of your time, excellent all the way to terrible.

Thankfully, there’s enough diversity in the world to go around. There are people who will not only do the jobs you and I might find disagreeable, but they’ll do it with enthusiasm, put in the required investment of energy and commitment to be successful at. These don’t have to be dangerous, dirty, low-paying positions to qualify. In fact many jobs you and I might find unsuited to our particular tastes are good paying and prestigious. Some might not come with fancy titles or be high on the most desired jobs list but we’re still extremely grateful that there are people who do them.

As you go about your day today, how many ‘invisible’ people do you see working? These are the people you benefit from as they go about doing their jobs either directly or indirectly. Take the road crew involved in repairing potholes, widening a road or building a bridge overpass. As your vehicle slows down and eventually stops in front of the Flag Person who stops traffic to let a dump truck turn onto the road in front of you, it’s typical that we think, “Oh great! If I could just have been the last car let through ahead of this truck, not the first car stopped and now behind it!”

But that crew working on the roads makes our drive so much better in the long-run. The Dump Truck Drivers, Flag Person, Coffee Truck guy, Surveyor’s Architects, General Labourers, Pavers etc. they all have their jobs to do. They’re out there in the inclement weather,  sometimes working 24/7 do get work done with the least inconvenience to the throngs of daytime motorists. But do we typically roll down the window of the car and say thanks or give them the thumbs up as we pass? Not likely.

What of the Crossing Guard who holds us up so our kids can get to and from school safely? Who’s the women and men who designed, built and installed our traffic lights, laid our sidewalks, built and service the cars and trucks we drive? We rely on these people to do top-notch work on a daily basis but rarely give them much thought until that moment when our vehicles have a problem, the lights malfunction, the sidewalks crack. Then they are foremost in our minds and we appreciate their expertise in what they do – jobs which we have little to zero interest in doing ourselves.

There’s the teachers who instruct and train our children, role-modelling the love for learning we hope our kids embrace. While we appreciate for the most part the role these people play in our societies and generally elevate the stature of the people in these instructing roles, not everybody would comfortably and confidently want to stand in front of 30 children and be responsible for their education.

Many more people we rely on each day don’t work in the kinds of jobs we typically place a lot of value in. Take the people who brew and serve your morning beverage at a drive-thru. Minimum wage earners, all expected to smile and be friendly with each customer, doing repetitive work for 6 or 7 hours at a time. How many coffee’s and teas do they pour in an hour, a shift, a week, a year? Too many to bear thinking of no doubt. We appreciate that steaming cup of ‘get up and start your day’ but you might not be enamoured with doing their job on a long-term basis; you might need more stimulation.

There’s the people who build our homes, erect the light standards we see by, build the tunnels for the trains we ride, drive the buses we take, print the materials we read – and yes create the tablets, laptops and phones we’ve come to rely on so much. Those jobs might not be high on our list of desired jobs, but we all benefit from the work of those people in them.

So first here’s a nod to them – to you – if you’re in a job where you don’t get a lot of praise or thanks from end-users. You might not get the customers standing in front of you watching how you go about your business and complimenting your good work but it’s appreciated.

Whether you’re an employee in a variety store, a Salesperson in a retail operation, or the people who collect, clean and stack those food trays in food courts of large malls, I thank you for doing what you do each day.

What one person finds menial or hard work is meaningful and a joy to do for someone else. So maybe that could be your goal today – our goal today. You know, thank two people who are seemingly invisible but vital to making the day run smoothly. A quick nod of thanks, a raised cup in salute, a friendly smile or a mouthed, “Thanks”.

What if it started with you? We might make someone feel a little prouder; a little more appreciated. So there’s your challenge. Oh and here’s to YOU for all you do!

 

 

 

Your Own Northern Star


In our night sky there is a star which sits almost directly above the north pole on the Earth’s axis. From our vantage point it seems to be a fixed object around which all the other stars rotate; making it an excellent stationary point from which to navigate and chart one’s place and / or progress. Given that it’s above the north pole, it has been given the name, Polaris; the North Star.

In days of old, many sailors once out in waters beyond the sight of land would use the stars in the night sky to stay the course as they’d navigate their way to distant lands. By day when the stars were not visible, these same people would track their progress using the path of the sun and pray for a cloudless night by which they could assure themselves they were on course and hadn’t wavered too much during the day.

So ironically, they used this one star in the night sky so very far away to keep grounded. The same by the way is true for travellers who were lost inland. When there was no GPS, no radio’s, cell phone or compasses, those lost in the night would hope for evenings full of stars from which they could get their bearings and stay the course as they made their way in lands where it was too hot to travel by day. Again, the North Star was their fixed point from which to gain their bearings.

Let me ask you then if you have a North Star of your very own. Do you have someone in your life who is always there for you? Someone you can rely on time after time to be there for you when you’re feeling lost and need reassurance? Maybe like Polaris they seem distant but when you look for them they can always be trusted to be steadfast right where you’d expect them to be and that stability is comforting to you and from that you draw self-confidence and can then go on your way.

It’s pretty easy in 2017 to find ourselves caught up in the hectic day-to-day. Whether it’s the pursuit of money, prestige, a job title, a house, cottage or yes even a far off destination like those explorers of old, we can get so focused on ‘getting’ things that we might lose ourselves in the process. This is why every so often something happens that gives us pause to think and we find ourselves re-evaluating our priorities. “Is this really what I want? When did I lose my way and become so fixated on making such-and-such my priority? What did I give up or move down my list of priorities by giving primary importance to whatever it is?”

It’s often this one person we see as our sounding board, our voice of reason, our mentor or advisor that helps us put things in perspective. Be it just listening, an afternoon or evenings conversation with them, maybe even just bringing them to mind in some cases; we somehow feel things just make sense when they’re near at hand or near in mind. In short, you’ve got your own Polaris, your own Northern Star.

Sometimes these people are the go-to people we think of first in our moments of need or crisis. When things are bleak, we’re confused or possibly we have a big decision to make, we seek out that one person who can listen to what’s troubling us, rearrange everything we tell them and they give it back to us in a way that just makes sense. Somehow, they make things clearer and without telling us what to do, they just make our decision easier; even when that decision means we’re in for a lot of work and struggle, the decision itself is easier to make.

Stars are by their very place in the universe, always up. Wherever you are on the Earth, you have to look up to see them. You might look down and see them reflected in still waters, but that’s not the stars themselves but rather their reflection. No, to see the stars and find the North Star, you have to look up to the night sky.

The person you see as your own Polaris is probably much the same; you look up to them. Don’t confuse this with meaning they can’t falter now and then, after all you can go a few days with cloudy nights when the stars aren’t visible, or there’s enough passing atmospheric cover that the stars peek out and then disappear. But you and I both know that North Star is always there.  While shooting stars sometimes briefly light the skies and disappear forever in a fiery end, the North Star has always been there.

I wonder if you’ve ever told this person you equate as your personal North Star just how much they mean to you? Is it enough that they should just ‘know’ their value to you? Would it be awkward for you to express your appreciation for them? It’s not hard to imagine however that telling them either verbally or in the written word would be welcomed and appreciated. What does having them in your life do for you? How are you better for knowing them? How much does it mean to have them to go to in your darkest moments for some clarity?

Sounds to me like a wonderful thing to share with your own North Star.