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It Is Not the Thought that Counts

I think about things I should do all the time.  I think about how I should write a letter to someone’s supervisor to tell them what great service the person gave me.  I think about how I should take the time to post a really good review of that hotel on Trip Advisor. I make a mental note to send someone a get well card.  And all that means nothing.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  None of it counts.

I prefer “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  Yep, that’s me strolling along the road to hell.

The problem is we don’t just do it.  We should just fire off a quick e-mail or post a quick note on Facebook rather than wait to get a card or gift and wind up doing nothing.   Jim Collins says “good is the enemy of great” but for me, great is the enemy of execution.

What I need to remember is the power of the small gesture.  I spent my last birthday on the road and as I was trudging through airports I kept getting little happy birthday wishes from my Facebook friends.  I have to admit, it made the day a lot brighter.

Recently, before I spoke at a meeting, a woman passed me a note saying she’d seen me speak before and it was great and she knew I’d be great again this year.  It was like getting a pep talk right before going on stage.  It took her just a few seconds, but I still have the note.

I’m trying to get better – to post little notes of encouragement on Facebook and to take the time to do things that seem small to me, but might be big to the recipient.  Some of it is just being more aware – taking the time to smile and engage with people instead of checking my phone.  And just doing things immediately, knowing I probably won’t buy a card or I’ll get wrapped up in other things and won’t do it later.

The greatest little gesture you can make is to give someone your attention.   Tell your neighbor how lovely her yard looks.  Leave a little note for your spouse or child.  Send a quick text – it’s better than nothing.  The thought doesn’t count – the action does.

In fact, the next time you catch yourself saying “it’s the thought that counts,” realize you are joining me on a little stroll to a very warm location.


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