I have worked for two different people who started meetings by asking us to write notes of gratitude to colleagues.  Not rocket science, I know.  But culture-shifting and life-changing.

Something happens when you put your focus on recognizing other people.  Something powerful.  First, you impact that person in ways you could not imagine.  Human beings need to be valued.  We need to know we matter and that other people know we matter.   It seems so simple, but taking the time to write a note and letting people know what you appreciate about them can make all the difference in their day.  Over time, this kind of validation can change a life.

Writing notes (or other rituals designed to recognize and appreciate people) can impact your day as well.  It lifts your mood.  It takes the focus off whatever might be happening in your life, and it shines a light on something positive.

And the impact on your organization cannot be overstated.  A work culture that focuses on the strengths of its people is positive.  The people feel valued.  I have seen first-hand how a shift towards building relationships and recognizing the contributions of other people can change a school, a district, or an organization.

People matter.  People need to know they matter.  Tell them.

As we start a new school year, it is worth a reminder that our students also have this primal need to be recognized, to be seen, to matter.  A friend shared a video with me this week that was a vivid reminder of this need to matter.  Welcome your new students.  Learn their names quickly.  Know them.  And then tell them and tell others all of things you appreciate about them.

Our world can feel overwhelming at times.  The news is full of events that make us question humanity.  How could something as simple as a note ever have an impact?  It can.  It does.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

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