The Acknowledgement

“No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others.  The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”

                                  – Alfred Lord Whitehead

It took longer than I thought, but everything seems to be in place and it looks like my book will be published later this month.  Entitled, Before I Sleep:  The Incredible Power of Journaling, the book contains a sampling of my Sunday evening mailings with a little twist; following each story there is a reflection page designed to encourage journaling.  Ideally, the combination of reading a selection and completing  journal responses to two questions will enhance the onset of a deeper, more restful sleep. Time will tell!

One of the last things I needed to complete was the acknowledgement page.  It wasn’t an easy task, and it took several drafts until I was satisfied with the product.  My biggest concern was that I would miss someone, that I would fail to acknowledge a person who had helped me along the way.  And that’s when it hit me, maybe I should be equally concerned with providing acknowledgement for those who help me everyday.  Maybe acknowledging others  should be more than a page in my book, perhaps it should be a part of my daily life.

For too many people, being ignored and feeling invisible has become commonplace, and acknowledgment is the solution. It sounds simple, and it is, but what’s important to remember is that acknowledgement serves to meet our basic human need for inclusion, it is a recognition for simply being present. Unfortunately in a social media driven world, it seems we spend more time “Liking”  posts, than acknowledging others by making eye contact, smiling and exchanging greetings

Chris Gardner is an entrepreneur, speaker and American businessman.  He is also the author of the NY Times Best-seller, The Pursuit of Happiness, which chronicled his struggles as a homeless father who raised and cared for his son on the streets of San Francisco, while simultaneously trying to maintain employment with a major investment firm.  He writes, “One of the hardest parts of being homeless was feeling invisible…I felt like I was just an environmental ornament that people on the street unconsciously moved past.”  Unfortunately, many of us do the same thing,  not only to the homeless, but to essential workers, colleagues and others.

The reality is we each have the opportunity every day, at every turn, to bring some light into someone’s day by acknowledging them and providing them with a sense of recognition.  Acknowledgement costs nothing, yet can mean everything to someone who may be down or need a boost.  A wave, greeting or simple smile may be the one thing it takes to make a total difference in their day.

When people are acknowledged, it gives them a greater sense of purpose.  Garner suggests five strategies to facilitate this:

  1. Say “hello, and mean it — Saying hello to a person is more than just a greeting. It’s an opportunity for you to show appreciation for simply being in the company of an individual. Don’t be shy, say hi!

  2. Make eye contact — A wise person once said, “Eyes are the window to the soul.”  When you’re having a conversation with someone, look them in the eye. You’re talking to a person, not your phone or your shoes.

  3. Ask how they are, and listen — There’s no better icebreaker than asking how someone is doing. Inquire about something they’ve been working on, or ask how their family is doing. This shows you acknowledge and value them as a person.

  4. Remember their name — If you don’t know someone’s name, ask. Then try to memorize it. This can be a challenge if you only see them sporadically or have trouble with names in general. But it speaks volumes if you can meet and greet them by name the next time you see them.

  5. Acknowledge everyone — No one knows where life will take us, so be respectful to everyone you come in contact with. You never know, that restaurant busboy you walked past or homeless person you didn’t see, could one day be someone you meet again in entirely different circumstances.

It’s a choice. We are hurting others when we inadvertently ignore them. However, when we choose to be that person who initiates the eye-contact, the conversation, the hand-shake or the high-five, we can make someone’s day.  Simply put, when we choose to acknowledge others, we make a difference in the lives of everyone with whom we cross paths.

Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  How will you make someone feel tomorrow?

Embrace the Challenge!