Today I was sitting with a friend as we planned his father’s funeral. His dad passed away a few days earlier at the age of 87. My friend said, “we need to find a way to get a thank you note into the memorial service.” He went on, “40 years ago when my father was a locomotive engineer, he gave a little boy a tour of the train. The little boy’s father wrote my dad a thank you note that he held on to for decades.” It’s the power of a ‘thank you’.
Thirty years ago I gave my first public talk. If you measured it against gifted speakers, I might have squeaked out a D- …maybe. In the audience that day was a long-retired leader and public speaker who took the time, several days later, to handwrite and mail me a page-long thank you note. He was encouraging, specific, and even constructive in his thank you. It motivated me to push on. Every year I pull out that thank you, read it, and remind myself of the power of a ‘thank you’.
In neither of these scenarios was the writer attempting to create a legacy statement; they just saw a reason to say ‘thanks’ and took the time to send a note. As a leader, when you observe a reason to say thanks, be intentional and send off a quick note (a quick handwritten note is more effective than an email!). Want to make it easier? Keep a stack of note cards in your laptop bag, desk, or car along with stamped envelopes and a marker. When you observe someone demonstrating:
- A courageous first step
- Consistent and faithful service
- An extra mile effort
- Generosity with someone in need
- Outstanding performance
- An act of kindness
Take the time to write them a thank you note. Don’t just think about it…do it. Years ago I read Tom Peters’ pithy little article, “50 Ways to Gain Personal Power”. Number One? Write thank you notes!! You’re leadership won’t go soft if you take this step….it will strengthen you while you encourage and empower others.
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Craig Sider enjoys helping people, leaders, and organizations pursue more intentional lives. He serves as President of The New York City Leadership Center, A Christian organization that serves as a change agent for leadership and collaboration across Metro NYC. . In addition, he has served on various not-for-profit and para-church ministry boards. Craig and his wife, Laura, reside in West New York, NJ.