Accentuate the Positive

This might seem a little self-glorifying after my post about Teacher Appreciation, but it’s something I don’t ever want to forget.

Yesterday, during a completely normal and unremarkable workday, I got an email from a coworker, one of our faculty. He is also a student, pursuing his MBA and he is writing a paper. He had a citation question. He’s good at figuring stuff like that out, but this was outside the norm. Struggling, he emailed me and asked, simply, for help.

I didn’t know the answer, either, but I did a little digging and figured it out. That’s what I do. That’s my job and my nature. I thought absolutely nothing of this transaction. Happens all the time.

I sent him the response and he sent back a very warm and thoughtful thank you.

Then, about an hour after that, an email from him appeared in my inbox. He wrote it to me, copying my boss and three rungs ABOVE her on the food chain. Here is the text of his note.

I think there are times when someone is so good at what they do that we occasionally take them for granted. Earlier today something happened that reminded me of how fortunate we are to have Olivia as our campus librarian.

 I received some feedback on my final MBA project assignment regarding a citation I had referenced where even my instructor wasn’t sure of the proper guidelines.  This wasn’t a typical citation, it was a municipal code, one that was specific to the city’s Code of Ordinances.

 So what did I do? I asked the one person who I knew would be able to find the solution, Olivia.  As I expected, both promptly and professionally, she delivered.  Not only was I impressed, but so was my instructor.

 Thank you, Olivia!  We are so lucky to have you on our team!

Can you even believe that? It is so rare that people would take the time to write a note like that for things that are done well. When things go poorly, people jump at the chance to complain, but this, this is something different. What is especially remarkable, to me, is that this was not a big deal. This was an ordinary, every day, occurrence. I didn’t do anything special, or extraordinary, which sometimes causes people to speak up in gratitude. This something mundane and he used that as an opportunity to make his point.

And while the whole letter is wonderful, it is the first line that almost reduced me to tears. “I think there are times when someone is so good at what they do that we occasionally take them for granted.” It’s a nice compliment for me, yes, but honestly, I feel taken for granted at work. I think many of us do, and having someone recognize that, and take a moment to point out, for no special reason, just because they can, that you are appreciated?

It’s a gift. One I do not take lightly. I was touched beyond words. Overwhelmed by sentiment. I sent him back a lovely thank you, and he responded with more kind words to me directly. But, lest we forget, this original kindness was sent up the food chain, which is a kindness all its own.

So, today. This week. This month. Soon. Take a moment and recognize someone for the simple every day things they do. I promise you, it will mean more to them than you know.

Moment Over

Each year at work, they do a March Madness pool. I always participate, just for fun. This year was no exception. Unfortunately, I did not do well. I had a super strong first round, and by the second round, I only had one team left in the final four and I didn’t even have them winning. Things were not looking good.

This morning, the person who organized it came in and said “I’m tallying the results today, you have a real shot!” I was astonished. How bad must everyone else have to have done in order for me to actually win this thing? The real humor in the moment was when I said “it’s over?” Yep, I follow so closely….

Then, I saw him at a meeting, he said, “sorry, you didn’t win. You came in third. Well, I guess technically fourth as there was a tie for second.”

I was still thrilled. How exciting to come in fourth! I know next to nothing about basketball, so I was strangely proud of myself. Then a few minutes past, he sent an email with the “Final Results”.

I opened it, so excited and proud to see my name listed at the top, near the winners.

And I read the list….1st place….2nd place….2nd place (tie)….4th place, Olivia.


I had no idea that hardly anyone played this year….turns out, ONLY FOUR PEOPLE PLAYED. Here I am walking around feeling all proud of coming in fourth OUT OF FOUR.

Moment Over.

Need an Abacus?

Two students just came in to see me. They had hunted down our math instructor to ask him where they could find an abacus to use. They have a project and need to demonstrate how to use an abacus, but didn’t know where to get one. He said, “Who would know that? Go ask Olivia.”

The students told me this and said, “it sounded like he was trying to stump you.”

I asked, “well, do you need a physical abacus?”

And within a 10 second Google search, I had found them this site.

It’s an online, real, working abacus. They can now embed that site into the powerpoint they are creating, enhancing the presentation and still demonstrating how the abacus works.

They were effusive in their praise. I said only this, “please walk past the math instructor again and let him know that I am the greatest and never let my students down.”

They both laughed and agreed that even when it comes to problems related to math, I’m still the best resource.

And now I know you can use an abacus for free online. I’ve always wanted to learn to use one. Maybe I should attend the presentation….

A Writer’s Journey

Here is something interesting.

Usa Projects is a lot like Kickstarter. If you don’t know what that is….well it’s a website that anyone can use in order to set up fundraising. And then people can donate, or not, to your project. As a matter of fact, the Veronica Mars movie was entirely funded from a Kickstarter project. The creator and cast wanted to make a movie but the studios weren’t buying, so they created a Kickstarter campaign and the fans funded the whole project. Now the movie will be released next year. Cool, right?

Well, the above link is an author who is trying to get enough funding to pay proper homage to the memoir she is writing. Please click on the link and read the details about the project, and watch the video.

Why am I telling you this? Because, I know this author. She is a coworker of mine. I enjoy her writing immensely and her sense of humor and her company. She approached me about this project to ask if I had any feedback or suggestions. She is struggling with getting the word out about her project. It is super personal to her and I think that makes it more difficult than average to ask for help.

I gained her permission to post it here. I’m not asking you to give her money. If you think it is worthwhile, by all means, she would appreciate the donation and it would be most generous of you. However, all I really want is for you to help spread the word. Reblog this post. Link up to this post. Copy the link to your Facebook if you would like. I think this is a worthy project and I know that she is a writer that will truly do her project justice.

If you do nothing else, then at least do this for me. Click the link above and read her story. The rest is up to you.

(I just realized after writing this that the gifts received for donating include being mentioned in the acknowledgments of the book.  Even better than being thanked in a general sense? Being thanked personally. Yeah, sounds pretty cool to me.)