Have you ever wanted make a difference in the world or in others’ lives, but you don’t know how? Or you feel like you need to make a BIG change to do it?
A close friend of mine told me a real-life story this week that might alter your perspective:
Years ago, this friend (we’ll call him John) was supervising a group of summer interns at work. After a few weeks, he noticed one of the interns liked to occasionally stay late at the office. This wasn’t expected or encouraged, but John knew this particular employee wasn’t typical. She'd had a previous career in nursing and switched to this industry later than the others. He also knew she enjoyed getting things done when the office was quiet, so he didn’t make a big fuss when she stayed late every now and then. However, being a supervisor who also understood the value of LEAVING work just as much as BEING there, he wanted to make sure she got enough time away from the office as well.
On occasions when he left the building before she did, he would write “GO HOME” in big, bold letters on a brightly-colored sticky note and stick it on her door before walking off without saying a word.
This simple, silly gesture made her laugh each time and also clearly communicated his message, "Don't stay too late," in a lighthearted way.
At the end of the summer, when it was time for all the interns to go back to school, John once again wrote the intern a sticky note message for her door. This time it said, “GO HOME…and come back to join us again after you’ve graduated.”
Years passed. Promotions, job transfers, etc., and one day John unexpectedly ran into this former intern again at his office.
They hadn't spoken in a long time, but she told him how much that last sticky note had motivated her while she was finishing her degree.
She had kept it on her desk and looked at it any time she was feeling inadequate in her field or worried about an upcoming exam. It served as a written reminder that she was talented, capable, appreciated, and that she had a professional place in a male-dominated world.
That sticky note helped to encourage her through the final two years of school, and when John ran into her again, she had just been hired as a full-time employee for the company.
She had “gone home and come back.”
John's small, encouraging action helped this intern feel seen, heard and understood. This story demonstrates the REAL power of making a difference in someone's life.
It doesn't have to be flashy. In fact, the most inspiring moments often are not.
Start paying attention to those around you and show or share in simple ways how you appreciate them. The lasting ripple effects of even tiny, positive actions can be incredible.
Ashley Orlando is a jazz vocalist/ukulele artist and coach who helps growth-focused leaders find their voice, grow their presence & amplify their impact.