Acknowledging the “Unseen” for their Contributions!

By Judith W. Umlas 
Sr. Vice President, Author, and Trainer – IIL

Before the holidays, I asked IIL VP of Worldwide Distribution Steve Osborn for the home address of someone in our company who had truly gone above and beyond for the Grateful Leadership initiative, and to whom I was extremely grateful. I thought that a gift would be the best way to express my gratitude. Instead, Steve then suggested that I consider all of the “unseen” people who worked tirelessly to make the Grateful Leadership courses, eLearning programs, materials, the gift packages available for people in order to help make the difference it has been our intention to make. These people, he said, are unseen, but their work is absolutely necessary to the success of this effort! And what was I going to do about this “condition”?

Hmmm…I wondered.  What would I do about it in the context of “walking the walk” and not just talking the talk? This was becoming a familiar theme for me by now, but one I hadn’t recognized as taking place in our own company. In a wonderful book called The Book of Awakening, author Mark Nepo wrote this in one of the passages: “I See You! …I Am Here!” was the title of it.  “For centuries,” he wrote, people “have greeted each other in this way. When one becomes aware of his brother or sister coming out of the bush, he exclaims, ‘I See You!’ and then the one approaching rejoices, ‘I Am Here!’ This timeless bearing witness is both simple and profound… for with this simple and direct affirmation, it is possible to claim our own presence to say, ‘I Am Here.’” When I read this beautiful passage, it spoke of the critical nature of seeing people – of acknowledging their value, their gifts and their talents. But how was I to acknowledge those I could not see?

Another example of this had occurred when I led a Grateful Leadership webinar for a Scandinavian company recently, and a participant named Knut shared that there is a Norwegian expression: “Det er viktig å bli sett” eller “Viktigheten av å bli sett,” which means “the importance of being seen.” Knut said, “Everyone needs to see and be seen…recognition, appreciation and feedback are important for each and every one to maintain a sense of humanity, personal worth and the feeling of being part of the surrounding social groups.” I thought this was totally correct, but I had missed it where it truly mattered – at “home,” in my own company!

But how was I going to be able to see…and acknowledge the unseen supporters of this important work in a place that I don’t work on a day-to-day basis? At the suggestion of the VP, I spoke with Melina Africa, Production and Administrative Support Manager at IIL Worldwide Distribution there. “Who are the unseen supporters of Grateful Leadership?” I asked. I now wanted to acknowledge each and every one of them, even though I hadn’t really thought about them (shame on me) a lot previously. Here’s what Melina had to say:

“I think I am a Grateful Leader,” she said a bit tentatively at first. “I know absolutely I couldn’t get the major projects we do at a moment’s notice for IIL companies and customers around the world, without our whole team. Just this week we got an order for IIL Printing on Friday afternoon that had to be completed and shipped and delivered by Monday morning, and everyone worked until the job got done. I know they would do anything for this company!” I started getting a guilt attack, but encouraged her to say more. “If even one of them were gone, I would be dead in the water. The team starts answering my emails and fielding phone calls when they know I can’t come up for air. The administrative group drops everything to come help out on IIL Printing jobs whenever needed. The virtual team was here all weekend to help support a pilot for a new client. The sales team tirelessly makes phone calls and helps our customers with their educational needs. The FedEx driver, Eddy, waits as long as he possibly can for our packages so that we don’t have to drive them hours away to St. Louis. They are all just amazing people, and almost no one ever sees or knows of their existence.”

I was shocked by my own lack of appreciation of all of these tireless, committed, loyal and happy workers. So I decided to express it tangibly, and sent a whole bunch of chocolate covered strawberries, which, I am told, were gobbled up in about 60 seconds! I included a heartfelt note that expressed my gratitude and appreciation to the IIL Monett team for all their hard work that goes essentially unnoticed.

So here are some of the wonderful people who work night and day to support all of us who benefit from IIL’s transformational Grateful Leadership initiative, and all the other wonderful courses and products that IIL offers.

monett-team

Join me, please, in thanking and appreciating and expressing our gratitude to all of these wonderful people.  And learn from my mistakes and do seek the unseen in your organization, family or community…and acknowledge them for what they contribute to your life and work!

Judy_Umlas_-_Headshot

Judith W. Umlas is Sr. Vice President and trainer at International Institute for Learning, Inc. She is the author of the ground-breaking book, The Power of Acknowledgment  and two other books which have been credited with changing workplaces and lives.

Judith delivers inspiring, motivational and transformational keynote addresses, course and webinars on Grateful Leadership and The Power of Acknowledgment all over the world. Grateful Leadership and The Power of Acknowledgment are Judith’s passion, mission and her purpose!


Behind the Scenes of my International Project Management Day Keynote Taping: From Cowardly Lion to Lionhearted Leader!

By Judith W. Umlas
IIL Senior Vice President, Trainer, and Author of Grateful Leadership

I worked as a television producer and writer at WCBS-TV for about a dozen years. I know the workings of a TV studio inside and out. So that should make my keynote videotaping a piece of cake for me, right? Wrong! I worked on the “other side of the camera,” so I can’t begin to describe the agony I always put myself (and everyone around me) through in past years to make sure my IPMDAY presentation is perfect, and then I never feel like it is!

But this year, I made a choice: I was going to be as passionate in my presentation to the IIL Media crew and cameras as I would normally be before an audience of hundreds, or even thousands of people, which doesn’t throw me much at all. I would let my passion, mission and purpose come through even though I was addressing inanimate objects (the cameras).

I have to tell you that IIL Media, headed up by Emmy award-winning producer and director d.b. Roderick, cared as much about my presentation as I did! Coordinating Producer Andrea Skipper worked with me for weeks getting the script just right, the visuals dramatic and attention-grabbing. Leroy Patton was meticulous with the lighting and camera work. Andres Valencia (I later learned) was operating the teleprompter for the first time due to a last minute substitution. He did a great job, considering! Then there was Andrea Johnson, Production Manager, who made sure to tell me that the darts in my skirt were crooked and to please fix them. She also made me change my outfit to something all felt was much more suited to my “colorful” personality. I did as she suggested!

The really great part, though, was that I actually felt as though I was addressing live people when I spoke, due to the attention and true listening I received from this delightful crew. And at the end, they spontaneously broke into applause. I was exhilarated and felt like I had broken through my own barriers to full self-expression in front of cameras rather than people. This crew – this wonderful group of people – made it possible for me to connect, and I saw that my message resonated with all of them.

I also give my thanks to the whole IIL crew outside the studio that made this year’s production work so well for me: IIL Marketing, including ShaunMara Begley who found some of the great images used in my presentation; Kaylin Berry, who works with me on all social media projects so successfully with me on social media projects and posts (such as this one!); Lori Milhaven, EVP of Marketing who takes everything in her stride and just gets the word out to the world; Nolan Voss, Sr. Graphic designer who makes everything look so artistic and beautiful; Gregory Johnson, VP Enterprise Solutions who is always a great sounding board/idea person for any of my new and venturesome content creations; and CEO E. LaVerne Johnson who tolerated my trepidation and numerous pleas for her to read my updated script “just one more time…”

Now I will ask you to be the judge of the final result when you attend International Project Management Day 2015: Ensuring a Sustainable Future on November 5th. I would like YOU tell me if I have truly grown greater than my constraints. As noted author Jack Canfield wrote, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” I think I really took that message to heart with this year’s presentation, and hopefully all of you will take it to heart and be the beneficiaries as well!.

There will be a live Q&A at the end of my keynote session during which we can all have some conversation! And you can register now for this great event (there are 38 other thought leaders and Project Management, Leadership and Sustainability practitioners who are presenting). If you do register now, you can get exciting updates from IIL about and until the Big Event! Hope to see you there!

Until the next time…

Register for IPMDAY Here »

IPMD2015