At one time or another, each and every one of us has received positive feedback or words of encouragement. Receiving these messages feels amazing and as a result, there are certain memories that will stick with us forever. There are other moments we may distort or completely forget over time as new memories take their place. The true value of these less significant moments, when captured and retained may take on a whole new meaning later in life.
In the early 2000’s, I was a Sales Support Assistant at Time Warner Media Sales. In my role, I helped the sales team with their presentations and other administrative tasks. It wasn’t unusual to receive notes or cards from the team, recognizing me and thanking me for my work. My friend Karen (Varecka) Cruz, who I met at TW, gave me the idea to start a kudos binder where I could keep those notes and cards organized.
Today, I have close to twenty years worth of letters, notes, cards and emails in my kudos binder, starting with a letter I received while working at the Woodcliff Golf Course in 1999. Every couple of years I will add new memories. My binder serves as a visual history of my growth and development and has been a great resource when I’ve been prepping for an interview, need to psyche myself up for a presentation or feeling down and need a boost.
As I explore my options for the future, I’ve been considering entrepreneurship. While this option would certainly allow me the freedom to focus on work I love, I’m not sure I’m ready. I’ve had several people tell me I am and that I should go for it and another predict that a year from now, that I’ll be doing exactly that.
The other day I went back and pulled out my binder to reference one of those distorted memories. It’s an email dated August 18, 2006 from my former manager, David Thiel;
Me: Are we cancelling these training sessions?
David: Not cancelled, I just want YOU to run them.
David: This seems like a good opportunity. You should know I have extraordinary confidence in you and your abilities. I mean it when I say you could do my job someday.
David was one of three U of R grads who founded Auragen Communications in 1995. Auragen went on to become one of the largest and most accomplished web agencies in Rochester, NY being named to the Inc. 500 list in 2001, before being sold to Catalyst Direct in 2007. Twelve years ago, David thought I had the potential to do his job someday? Wow!
Growth doesn’t happen inside of our comfort zone which is why it’s so important to surround ourselves with people who challenge us and help us see things in us that we don’t always have the ability to see in ourselves. David’s email while at the time was meaningful enough for me to keep, means a lot more to me now at this stage in my career when I’m considering taking another big leap.
My challenge for everyone reading this post is the following;
Create a Kudos binder
It’s never too late to start one for yourself and never too early to start one for your children or other special people in your life. I’ve already started binders for my boys and let them decide what goes in it; notes from teachers, friends or family members, drawings and art projects. Anything they find special or memorable and want to become a part of their history.
Make time for positive feedback and words of encouragement
If someone does something you appreciate, tell them. If you see potential in someone, let them know. Better yet, send an email or provide a handwritten note. You have no way of knowing how much your gesture may mean to someone not just in the moment, but down the road.
Share a “lollipop moment”
I recently watched a TedTalk titled Everyday Leadership by Drew Dudley, a Canadian entrepreneur who talks about “lollipop moments;” a moment where someone has said or done something that you feel had a fundamental impact on your life. I’m not sure if Karen remembers giving me the idea for a kudos binder when we worked together fifteen years ago, or if David remembers the situation that prompted his email to me twelve years ago. Even if they do remember, they’d have no way of knowing the impact these small moments have had on me today. Take six minutes to watch Drew’s TedTalk and share your own lollipop moment with someone whose had an impact in your life.
I’m not sure what I’ll be doing a year from now and if I’ll take the leap to entrepreneurship; something that twelve years ago wasn’t even on my radar! In the meantime, thank you to all the people in my life who took a chance on me, challenged me and helped me realize my own potential over the years. While I have more to do, I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.
“We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments, how many of them we create, how many of them we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward, and how many of them we say thank you for.” – Drew Dudley, Founder & Chief Catalyst of Day One Leadership.