** This quote has often been attributed to Mother Teresa, but according to MotherTeresa.org she did not say it.**
I am fortunate to work in a day job that enables me to help people. I work with individuals and communities to help them make changes that will improve life for people in those communities. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t write about my day job here and it isn’t entirely relevant to the story. Sometimes I get drawn into local issues that get messy, most often because of personality conflicts, misunderstandings and / or bruised egos. The frustrating thing about these situations is that I don’t have the power in my role to resolve them. I can’t make people be nice to one another and I can’t say to the people involved the same kinds of things I would say to my kids when they are fighting. Often I can help people who are impacted by the issue and provide support on related issues or fall out.
I am in the midst of just such a situation. It is the most challenging one I have encountered in my current role and it has moved into the realm of legal fights, so I am generally trying to avoid getting pulled in to those issues while I work on the periphery as best I can. It has been a challenging situation with something new happening each day that makes the situation worse. I have spent a week dealing with the situation with the exception of the time that I have spent on the road and attending other meetings.
I was feeling demoralized and not a little wiped out when I got a call Wednesday morning that completely changed my day and how I was feeling about this situation and my role.
One of the people who has been most affected in this case called me and while I haven’t dealt with her directly I knew who she was when she introduced herself. I braced myself for another angle to deal with. Instead of adding to the pile I was working on, she took away the weight I was carrying.
She was just calling me to say thank you. She spent five minutes telling me how appreciative she was of the work I was doing. She told me about all the other impacted people who were thankful for what I was doing and that the effort I was making on all their behalf really meant a lot to her.
I think it was the defining moment of my six years on the job. I have had a few people send me thank you notes and a few other people say thank you over the years, but this one was the most meaningful. I had never interacted with her before and she took time out of a very personally difficult situation to call and thank me. It was so kind and generous of her to make that effort. I may have discovered a bit of dust in my eye as a result.
Her call reminded me of the impact I can have on people beyond those I am directly working with. Like the ripples in the water flowing out from a single drop I can’t, none of us can really, know who we will affect through daily actions. Hopefully the effects are for the better and in this case they are, for both of us.
Like the ripples in the water flowing out from a single drop none of us can really know who we will affect through our daily actions.Click To Tweet
Her call was a bit like when the water ripples hit a wall or other barrier and they bounce off in another direction. With that one call she re-energized me. She showed me that the work I was doing on this case was making an impact. Her reminder of impact helped me to sit up taller and feel stronger and now stands as a proxy for all the other ripples I have had the opportunity to make.
We often travel through our days and lives without stopping to thank those who make a difference for us. We are all busy and distracted and trying to get through each day. This one phone call made me stop and not only feel very appreciated, it also made me think about the people who make a difference in my life. I don’t say thank you often enough and I want to do better. Imagine the ripples we could create if we all took the time to make one thank you call or send one thank you note to someone in our lives every day, especially to those people who have impacted your life without knowing it. Showing gratitude to others makes a difference. It feels good to say thank you and it can make someone’s day.
If only I could get my kids to say thank you a little more often…
Thank you for reading my blog.