All human beings seek validation. I’m not talking about being put on a pedestal or worshiped. I’m talking about the inherent need to simply be acknowledged for existing; to be recognized and validated that I, as an individual, contribute and that I matter.
When I became a mother 5 years ago, I was overwhelmed with my new world of sleepless nights, endless nursing sessions and days that bled into nights that bled into days…Groundhog’s Day at it’s finest. Acknowledgement of my efforts (“you are doing a good job” or even “I notice your effort”) instantly re-charged my batteries. Those words were magic.
I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday yet I can recall very distinctly specific instances 30 years ago when I felt “less than”. As a first grader, my “crush” said he did not want to sit next to me in reading group one day. Silly, really, but at that moment I felt “less than”. I remember the feeling like it happened 5 minutes ago.
There’s no worse feeling than being made to feel insignificant, especially if you are a child. Recently, I had the honor of standing up in front of 85 colleagues to recognize someone and it got me thinking: Do I make my kids feel “less than” when I come home and they are so happy to see me and I’m so tired I need toothpicks to prop my eyes open? Like many of us, I struggle with the juggle. Some days, I feel like I left it all onstage. Nothing left to give.
Here’s what I said to recognize my colleague…
“Leadership is not about getting to the top of some ladder…it is a calling. Extraordinary leaders see an opportunity to make a difference and dare to take a stand. She brings her authentic self to work every day and leads with her head, her heart and her soul. She takes the time to consider the unique context that every situation brings and does not settle for a cookie-cutter approach. You have taught me that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Thank you for making each of us feel appreciated and inspired. We are grateful that you followed your calling to leadership. We acknowledge and all you’ve done to make a difference and take a stand. Thank you for being an extraordinary leader.”
People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Smarties, give someone a gift he or she never saw coming – appreciation, a pat on the back for their effort or simply an acknowledgement that they matter.