An interesting question was posed on this morning’s Leadershift call. Mike asked us, “Who in your life should you take the time to thank?” This was preceded by the question, “Do people know you value them?” I didn’t take the time to process these questions until just a little bit ago, but as I sit here typing, my mind drifts off to memories of the important people in my life- and I realize that I don’t do the best job at thanking the people who pour into me. Sure, when I need to send a birthday card or a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day card, I am quick to let my loved one’s know just how thankful I am for them. What about the day to day though? How often do I actually stop to thank the people who pour into me through their prayers, their time, their thoughtfulness, and through the investment they are making in my life? Not as often as I should.
I don’t want to wait until the next birthday rolls around to let my mentors and friends know that I’m thankful for them. I don’t want my gratitude towards my parents and in-laws to be expressed only on special occasions. I wonder what it would look like to actually live in gratitude? To observe the good someone is doing, and then actually voice what we see. When the people around us know they are acknowledged, appreciated, and valued, growth occurs. It is so critical to have someone who speaks into your life, someone who can see what is going on and is able to call you out, encourage your heart, challenge you, and praise you. Accountability is pertinent to growth, so if accountability is pertinent to growth, then the people in our lives holding us accountable and walking along side us are pertinent as well, and they need to know that!
People like to know they are needed. I know I do. When I am in a situation, whether it be at a job, in a friendship, etc., if I start feeling like my role and investment isn’t needed or valued, then my desire to stay involved drastically diminishes. A few years ago, I was working on the leadership team at Chick-Fil-A. I had a coworker who was the most cheerful, enthusiastic, sincere person at our restaurant, and I was always amazed by the commitment she showed to our team and our customers. When I first met her, I thought she was a highly sarcastic person because I didn’t believe anyone could be that genuine about serving others. I mean let's be real- it wasn’t always “our pleasure.”
My friend and I hadn’t spoken or seen each other in quite some time, but she came to my mind last month and I sent her a text:
“I was doing my hubby’s laundry just now and your voice popped up in my head, ‘I live to serve!’ and I just want to affirm you and say that you truly set a wonderful example for me of how to serve people, both professionally and personally. So thank you for that.”
It was a simple text, but I meant every word. She taught me what joyful serving looked like and I wanted to affirm her. The text I got in response quickly confirmed in my own mind that when we take time to let others know the impact they have on us and to thank them for it, it doesn’t just encourage the recipient of praise, it encourages the praiser as well! My friend’s response read:
“This brought my heart such a deep, intense joy. Thank you so much for this message. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to serve with you and that we had the opportunity to leave a long impact on one another.”
As I participate in this Leadershift Course, I’m reminded every week of the fact that the way I live my life both impacts and influences others, whether it be good or bad. This is why it is so critical to plan time to reflect. Reflection is what helps us move forward. Sometimes reflection begins with a mentor pointing out areas in your life that need to be addressed. Sometimes reflection begins in the Word of God, and sometimes reflection begins with intentional stillness. However reflection begins for you is great, but it requires consistency. If a time of reflection each week went on your calendar just like any other appointment, the likelihood of it happening dramatically increases. It’s in these moments of reflection- these times of stillness, when we look back over our week and evaluate how we handled situations, areas of growth we need to work on, and the interactions we had with those around us- it is in these moments that we can cultivate a deep sense of value and gratitude for “our people.”
I challenge you to intentionally contact those around you and tell them why they are valuable to you. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but it is necessary and so beneficial to the relationship. Let them know the impact and influence they have on your life, and then live in gratitude. Be thankful for every opportunity you have to listen, learn, and lead. When we approach work, relationships, and day to day life with a gratitude mindset, we are able to find ways to grow from every situation we are in.
So here’s to growth. Our Growth.