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.

Teacher Appreciation

This week is National Teacher Appreciation week. If you know a teacher or have a teacher, let them know how much you appreciate all the hard work they do. (And since I work at a college, I’m considered a teacher for the purposes of this week.)

For the first time this year, my place of employment put out a box full of blank notecards and envelopes and let students know they were welcome to write a brief note of appreciation for any teachers on campus.

Today, I got one. I won’t tell you who it is from, but here is the text of my note.

“With your awesome persona, you can make just about anyone laugh or smile. Your knowledge in knowing and retaining so much info amazes me. Stay Awesome.”

I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be any better.

I feel very appreciated and love the tailored comments.

Thank you, student. And thank you, teachers in my life who have made a difference (read about them here and here and here and here and here). And Kelly, who constantly strives to make herself a better teacher, when she’s already so damn good at it. You never taught me in the literal sense, but you’ve been teaching me for 25 years about life and friendship and NKOTB and all things pop culture.

Know that as I am appreciated, I appreciate you.