It’s funny how something so simple can be so powerful. Let me give you two examples about how something so easy as saying “thanks” can change the world.
At our staff meetings we go around the room and share stories of positive things in the gym. We hear about when children overcome fear, or when they learn new skills, or when a breakthrough is made. At a recent meeting one of our coaches, Brianne, told us a story of how she spent a few extra minutes with a young girl after class that was having difficulty. After a few extra minutes the gymnast had a better understanding of how to achieve the skill and got on the path to learning how to do it. Brianne had to finish her class and then instead of taking a well-earned break before her next class she worked one on one with her gymnast that needed it. When she was done the little girl turned to her and said “Thank you for helping me.” According to Brianne, that comment made her feel so good that it not only made her feel appreciated but it energized her for the rest of the day. 5 words changed her day.
When I coached at Woodward camp this summer I was a little weirded out that the majority of the kids said thank you after every time I made a correction or coached them. At first, to be honest, I was a little put off. My thinking was that you express gratitude at the end of an interaction, when the gymnast leaves the event and hearing it during coaching was strange. In fact the first time a girl said “Thank you Mr. J.” I asked her if she was done. But as the week went on I got used to it. “Thank you Mr. J.” became “thank you” or Thanks J” due to the informal nature of my coaching, but the power was the same. Through the week I learned to rely on the comment to mean that not only did they hear me and understand the correction, but they appreciated it. What a novel idea. Woordward is in Pennsylvania and many of the gymnasts were from states east of Wisconsin. One gym, AGA from Michigan, has their girls face the coach, listen and express gratitude before they walk away. It’s part of the culture of their gym. Again, at first it seemed a little militant, but as I opened up I began to really feel like they appreciated my help. I felt that they respected my input and it made me feel good. I really didn’t know more than a handful of people in a camp of over 300 gymnasts and coaches and feeling appreciated made me feel at home, even in a room full of strangers (strangers that became friends). “Thank you Mr. J”. 4 words that made me feel welcome, appreciated and productive. 4 words that made my camp experience a positive one.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to make a point of saying how simple it is to express gratitude. How simple yet, how powerful. We sit around the table and proclaim our thankfulness for things like health, family, a job, a good school or a new car. But everyday should be thanksgiving, every day we should admit our gratitude for simple things. We should thank each other for holding a door, passing something at the table, or providing a hearty meal to be sure, but we should also show thanks for things that rarely get noticed: sharing time, listening, respecting, being responsible, caring or even just smiling. Have someone say “Thank you” when you least expect it; your mood will brighten, you will find hidden energy and you will certainly repeat whatever it was that was so praiseworthy. You may even thank someone else for their simple action and start the wave anew. 2 words that can change the world. 2 words.
Here is my Thanksgiving challenge. 5 times a day for the next week thank someone . Look for reasons to say “Thank You” and you will be surprised at how good you make people feel and in turn how good you feel. On that note, thank you all for reading my posts. When I hear someone has read it and when some tell me that they get something out of it,I feel like doing it is more worthwhile. Knowing someone like you takes an interest in my thoughts, it makes me feel good. So, 2 words I hope will start the wave to make yours and others day a little better; “Thank you”.