In early November I was checking my Twitter feed and came across a post from Brad Rieger (@BradRieger on Twitter) the Superintendent of Sylvania Schools in Toledo. In his twitter post Brad told the story of a local hospital executive who had provided each of his board members with a copy of John Kralik’s book, “A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life.” I’d never heard of the book, but using the very handy and sometimes dangerous “one touch ordering” from Amazon.com, I had a copy of the book on my IPad in less than a minute (one touch ordering is a post in and of itself. It’s possibly the greatest and/or worst technological innovation of all time.)
Kralik’s book was first published with the title: “365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life.” It’s a simple book written as a first person account of a southern California lawyer who has hit middle age and is down on his luck. He sets out on an ambitious plan to write one thank you note each day for a year and in so doing begins to transform his thinking as he notices and acknowledges the generosity of others both large and small.
I read the book in just a few quick hours and it struck a nerve. I purchased multiple copies of the book and gave them to people I care about and to whom I thought could also benefit. I then decided that I too would become intentional about showing gratitude and about hand-writing notes. With digital communication such as texting, email, and this blog, I hadn’t written too many actual cards and notes in the last few years and I decided that if I was really going to connect with others as I desire to do, I needed to take the time out of my schedule to do so. I haven’t set any specific targets on how many notes I may write, but I am clearly very blessed and I work surrounded by others striving to make a difference. Thus, I’ve written a lot of notes over the past four months.
My goal is for this pattern to continue. It’s important that I take time and thank others for the work they do. I believe this to be important both personally and professionally. It’s important both for the person receiving the acknowledgment, and also for me. When I write a note I also benefit. It helps me focus on what is good and what matters most.
The author Jon Gordon wrote “One Word That Will Change Your Life.” My one word for 2014 is connect. Randy Banks challenged all of Worthington new teachers in August to commit, connect and contribute. I’m focusing on connect this year and I’m hoping my hand-written notes further that goal. If you’ve received one of my notes, you’ll now understand a little of the why. Pass it on. Take the time to write a note to someone you’re thankful for. If you haven’t yet received a note, I hope you will soon. Connect.
(One final note: in the book Kralik kept a spreadsheet of everyone he wrote notes to. I thought this was overkill and thus chose not to keep a record. Bad mistake on my part. Some of you have probably received several notes from me, because I have no memory of who I wrote one to last month, in January, etc. I’m just writing them anytime the urge strikes. Obviously I don’t think it hurts to thank a person multiple times, but…in case you think I’m note stalking you…it’s unintentional, I’m just thankful for you.)