By Judith W. Umlas
September 6, 2023
There is NEVER an Expiration Date for Acknowledgments!
(Adapted from Center for Grateful Leadership Post)
I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct two Grateful Leadership two-day sessions for a large global company on behalf of International Institute for Learning, back in 2014. As always, I was deeply moved, inspired, and motivated by the results and the breakthroughs, and this one is a real prize winner!
We did an exercise called “The Grateful Leadership Knock Your Socks Off Acknowledgment Exercise™ in which I asked each participant to write out a heartfelt and sincere acknowledgment of someone in their career who made a real difference to them. Then some people shared what they wrote with the class, and it was totally inspirational. As almost always happens with this exercise, a few people spoke or wrote about someone from their past who was either a family member, a friend, or a teacher. Shortly after the session was completed, the class coordinator wrote this to all and I thank you, Michelle Madsen (now Maillet), Competence Development Coordinator in response to my exercise instructions: “LET’S START A GRATEFUL LEADERSHIP MOVEMENT!!! I want to hear your stories of putting this to use!”
In response, Katie, one of the participants, wrote this email to all of the attendees in both sessions, which I have received her generous permission to share with you:
Subject: RE: Follow up from Grateful Leadership Course
I know not all of you were in the same session of Grateful Leadership that I was in, but I had to share my follow-up story.
During the class, I mentioned that I had always wanted to thank a former teacher for the guidance she gave me but attempts to get in contact with her in the past had failed. As soon as we took our next break, someone in the class called me over and immediately initiated the search. By the end of the next day, she had found and contacted my former teacher. I absolutely could not believe that I would be able to talk to my teacher again after more than 20 years.
At this point, my nerves started to get to me a little bit. Some of the people in the class shared their own stories with me and the class overall gave me the confidence to get past the embarrassment and pass on the acknowledgement that I had waited so long to give. There were a few attempts to call her before I finally got through and talked to her. After being so unsure of what I would say to her, we ended up talking for more than a half hour. She remembered not only my class, but my family as well after all these years and all the students she had. Apparently, a high number of students from my class have been in touch with her, and there is one of my former classmates that is in contact with her on a regular basis.
She stressed how wonderful it feels to know that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life in some way, no matter how big or small the impact.
I absolutely have to say that the Grateful Leadership class and all of the people there have had an impact on me that is going to last. My teacher still lives in the same area, so I hope to visit her the next time I head down to Georgia!
After all of this, I really want to acknowledge Avery, Meg, and Saim for sharing experiences and helping to build my confidence and give me the push to move forward. I absolutely have to acknowledge Jessica for finding my teacher. She volunteered to do this right away and ran with it. I was completely blown away! Thank you so much!
And finally, I have to thank Judy for this class. There are a lot of classes offered here at here, but this is one that I would recommend to absolutely EVERYONE whether they are a leader or not. This class will change not only your work life, but your personal life as well!
I invited everyone everywhere to see how the fact that this acknowledgment was sitting with Katie for 20 years made no difference in its power and impact –both for her and her fortunate and gifted teacher! We can all do this and experience the joy of the difference we can make to another human being. And please note the way Katie used her developing acknowledgment skills to validate and value the great contributions of her fellow participants in our course who helped her get through her concerns and resistance to taking this important action. I personally acknowledge all of them, and especially Katie for becoming a true “Acknowledgment Ambassador.” And of course, I acknowledge her wonderful, make-a-difference-to-countless-young-people teacher!
So remember, there is no expiration date on the acknowledgments we all have with us in our hearts, minds and spirits. So, each of us can greatly benefit from Katie’s awesome example! Let’s all follow her wonderful example and go do it! Who are you carrying in your heart that you have not (yet) let know the difference he or she made to you?
And I’d love to receive your stories and acknowledgments which, with your permission, we can publish in IIL’s Thought Leadership Newsletter!
Judith W. Umlas is Sr. Vice President, author and trainer at International Institute for Learning, Inc. (IIL), a global corporate training company. She is the publisher of IIL Publishing, New York. She is also the author of the ground-breaking book, The Power of Acknowledgment ©2006, IIL Publishing, New York, which has been credited with changing workplaces and lives by making use of the 7 Principles of Acknowledgment she developed. Her book on Grateful Leadership, Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results was published by McGraw-Hill Professional in association with IIL in early 2013 and You’re Totally Awesome! The Power of Acknowledgment for Kids was published in late 2013 by IIL Publishing.
Judith delivers inspiring, motivational, and transformational keynote addresses on Grateful Leadership and The Power of Acknowledgment all over the world. She also leads webinars and teaches full-day virtual and traditional courses to organizations such as Volvo, the U.S. Army, Prudential, JMP Engineering, the World Bank, Fannie Mae, IBM, AT&T, Google, Amway, CCL Industries, the New York Police Department, and many others. She has trained over 100,000 people through her leading edge, highly interactive and engaging courses, and keynotes – with outstanding and long-lasting results. She heads up the Center for Grateful Leadership, a division of IIL, whose members from around the world are committed to practicing and implementing the Grateful Leadership initiative in their organizations.
Judith Umlas is a presenter at this year’s IPM Day 2023! Check out all event details, registration, and speaker lineup here.
Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.