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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Especially In This Season Of Thanksgiving...

Lessons Learned

Please Know, That I am Thankful For You

In this precious season of Thanksgiving, where we quiet our hearts in humble acknowledgment of our long list of blessings, do we recognize and count among our treasures all of those dear family members, friends, and other neighbors and co-workers who simply yet ever so importantly bring a smile to our faces each day by just getting the job done, tirelessly helping, serving without asking, caring without counting the cost, giving without expectation, over and over and over again offering excellence, or selflessly pouring themselves into making life easier for someone else? These significant individuals are frequently forgotten in the busy blur of checklists on clipboards because in their sacrificial giving they do not demand or complain or kick or scream; it’s not in their nature. Their generous nature gives and serves and cares until, because of lack of encouragement or appreciation, they find themselves empty.   It’s really quite simple.  When the car is running out of gas, you fill the tank; that is, if you want the car to continue moving. People are not dissimilar to this with respect to appreciation and encouragement. Kind, gentle, affirming words fill the soul with energizing joy despite the age of the hearer. And kind, gentle, affirming words are free of charge; no need to add a line to the budget.  Balm to the soul. Impetus to run a little farther.  Uplifting to the heart.  The push to carry on, to try harder, to jump higher, to get up again, to not walk away.  Sometimes, all that’s needed is thank you. And yet it seems we have a strange propensity to hoard these sorts of words, as if uttering them diminishes us or will serve to arrest aspiration in the hearer. We, however, freely and generously pour out our unsolicited opinions that bite and snip, our whiney complaints, and our interminably long lists of chores and orders, in much the same manner as a spigot stuck on high. Is it really easier and more beneficial to beat people down with the work harder speech than it is to offer the encouragement or appreciation speech and watch them work harder of their own volition in response to verbal affirmation? Which stirs the most meaningful motivation? Which builds and nourishes the strongest loyalty? Which empowers for the long-term? In our classrooms, which, in obsessive pursuit of metric excellence, have frequently become places of scripted interaction driven by the time constraints associated with high-stakes testing, the unscripted but life-giving words of affirmation which desperately  need to be said and heard often get lost in a stressful flurry. Unless I tell you it’s not good, assume that it is good and keep at it. What sort of motivation does that limp verbiage inspire? Emptiness is the result of that limp verbiage. And no one can run on empty.  We direly need to stop. We direly need to breathe. We truly and absolutely need to look one another in the eyes and speak encouragement and affirmation and appreciation to one another. Students. Colleagues.  Family members. Neighbors. We’re running on empty and the fuel to share, the fuel we need is free. This Thanksgiving, when you are finished counting your blessings or perhaps before you even start counting, reach out to each and every individual who breathes life into your life through the blessing of their kindness and thank them, thank them, thank them for their great gifts that deeply and regularly enrich your life. Thankfulness, encouragement, and appreciation are blessings that desperately need to be shared. No more neglectful waiting; it’s time to lovingly and sincerely fill some tanks this Thanksgiving.