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Unacknowledged Leaders

The other day, I headed out early morning to Walmart to pick up a prescription. While waiting for my order to be filled, I went back to the restroom area where I heard a lot of cheering going on. It sounded like a pep rally, and everyone was pumped and ready to get to work.

A few minutes later, I ran into the leader of the group in the restroom, and as we were both heading out the door, I decided to reach out and acknowledge her. I introduced myself as an author and inspirational speaker and trainer, and that I was curious to know how often they do this kind of "firing up" the employees on their way out to the sales floor. She explained that they do it three times a day, every day, with each new shift coming on. We chatted for a few minutes about just how important it was to keep people motivated each and every day.

As we talked, I was aware that she was a little dumbfounded that I was even reaching out to have a conversation with her. As I praised and acknowledged her for what I had just observed her doing, she looked like a deer-in-the-headlights: not quite able to grasp my acknowledgment of her and the fine job she was doing.

As I expressed my observation that she appeared totally invested as a leader, I had another realization. While giving so much to others is a great reward in and of itself, it was possible that she was reaching for a way to receive and accept my compliments and praise.

Suddenly I remembered that I had several "I Make A Difference" wristbands on my wrist, so I pulled one off and asked her to accept my Acknowledgment of her and her outstanding leadership. Looking into her eyes I said, "You Make A Difference, and I want to acknowledge what an inspirational difference you are making each and every day!" Again, she looked at me with a stunned look on her face as if she was not used to being on the receiving end of things.

She accepted my gift and put it on her wrist. I then pulled out 3 more wristbands from my purse and handed them to her and said, "And now, I'd like you to accept these to acknowledge others who are making a difference in your life..."

I've also learned to grab the moment and share with her that, if she wanted to make acknowledging others a regular thing, she could order her own wristbands from the website address imprinted on the inside of the wristband. She looked inside, saw it and nodded to me. And with that, we parted company.

I looked back over my shoulder and I received an unexpected gift back as I saw her looking down at her wristband gently rubbing her fingers over the words on the wristband - "I Make A Difference" - as she walked away.

Lesson: We often take leaders for granted. Who do you know that you could acknowledge today?

It's the ordinary acts of giving that create extraordinary experiences in life.
- Mary Robinson Reynolds, Creator of the UTrain Power of Acknowledgment Program and Leader's Guide.

Business at 35,000 Feet: A Story that will bring Tears to Your Eyes - by Stan H.

I went to sleep last night embracing and recalling the various Acknowledgment opportunities in my life. This one comes to mind because business is not always business as we would perceive it to be. God's business is always present and available, as long as we are open to realizing He has set our appointments.

I sat in my seat on a cross-country flight. As always, I was buried deep in my work in order to distract myself from the boring drone of the engines and to take me mentally away from the mundane nature of yet another airplane trip.

As I sat there, I could not help but overhear the conversation taking place behind me, between a father and his son. What a beautiful exchange. The father was explaining the wing of the air craft and the physics of lift. The conversation continued for almost the entire flight. What struck me was not the content of the conversation but the fact that this father was actively participating in the experience of life with his son. What a beautiful relationship and expression of a fathers love.

Moreover, the distinction within me, that such a conversation was an exception and not the rule. I was moved by the love in the fathers voice and the excitement in the voice of his son as they shared and exchanged the learning opportunity of this travel experience. I buried myself in my work and continued to my destination.

The conference that weekend was wonderful, and I found it necessary to cancel my return flight and spend an extra night providing mentoring for one of the conference participants. Monday morning found me once again settling in, preparing for yet another cross country flight to my next conference.

As I placed my bag in the overhead compartment I glanced behind me and low and behold, a few rows back sat the same father and son duo. At that point I experienced that inner twinge, that prompt of the innate, that this was not just a coincidental happenstance.

Once airborne and in a position to "move about the cabin" I took three Blue Wristbands from my briefcase and moved from my seat and introduced myself to the father and his son. I explained how I had been sitting in front of them on the previous Thursday and how moved I was by the love and obvious connectivity between a father and a son. I acknowledged the father for his attentive and loving leadership and dedication to his son. I then presented him with a Blue Wristband and gave him two more and encouraged him to pass on this acknowledgement to two others who made a difference in his life. A part of me wanted to acknowledge his son as well, yet that inner prompting within, told me no.

I returned to my seat and hunkered down for the remainder of the flight. A few minutes later I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I looked up from my laptop to see the brimming face of the young boy whose father I had acknowledged. He stood there before me wearing a Blue Wristband placed proudly on his wrist. His eyes were moist yet the beam on his face told me that the moisture was representative of an expression of joy and happiness.

"Mr." he asked, "do you have any more of those Blue Wristbands? You see, my dad told me how much he loved me and how proud he is of me. He told me how brave I am and how much I mean to him and how my being with him has made him strong. Then he gave me this Blue Wristband." He pointed proudly to his Blue Wristband. "Then he gave me the other Wristband," he said, "and told me to give it to someone who has made a difference in my life."

"Well Mr." he continued, "you see back there in the seats in front of my dad, the lady and the girl next to her? That's my mom and my sister. You see, a while back my dad and my mom decided to separate and were thinking about getting a divorce. My mom and sister went to live with my grandma and grandpa and me and my dad stayed back home. We came out here last week to ask my mom to come home and see if we can make our family 'work' again. They said yes, and now we are going back home together as a family. You see Mr., I only have one Blue Wristband left to give away. I can't decide if I should give it to my mom or my sister. I missed them so much, and I'm so happy that they are coming back home with us. I sure would like to give them both a Blue Wristband. Do you have one more?"

I could hardly contain my tears. I reached into my briefcase and took out the remainder of the package of 100 Blue Wristbands I had with me. I handed them to the young man and asked him to make sure to spread his love to all those who made a difference to him. He graciously accepted these wristbands and returned to acknowledge his mother and sister.

A little while later as I glanced up from my work, I noticed the flight attendant moving past me, with a Blue Wristband placed on her wrist and, protruding from the pocket of her uniform vest, two more Blue Wristbands. I knew then that the rest of the wristbands were in good hands. As I turned around to find the young boy, I discovered him sitting between his father and his mother and his little sister sitting on daddy's lap. All of them were wearing Blue Wristbands. As our eyes met, there was a most loving and gracious nod of love and appreciation.

The enigmatic nature of this simple Blue Wristband, once again promoting love and all that is pure and wonderful. At that point I realized that the success of the conference wasn't the only Business God had planned for this trip.


Watch the short "Power of Acknowledgment" Video

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