“Dear Tim,

Thank you for being one of our sons…”

the letter began. I remember thinking after I read that,

“Dad, I really didn’t have much of a choice to be one your sons!”

My father’s letter went on to say how proud he was of my accomplishments and that he recognized my leadership abilities when I was a pre-teen. He told me that he loved me. That was a big one as my dad seldom gave verbal praise or expressions of love. It was one of the most impactful letters I have ever received.

He probably never knew how much that letter meant to me – I cherish it more than anything he ever gave to me and I’ll keep it as long as I live. This letter inspires me to write similar letters to my family. I want to let them know how proud I am of each of them and how much I love them.

Handwritten letters don’t cost anything to write – just a little time.

Letters of praise, encouragement, and recognition have power. Great power. People save them and read them over and over. They inspire, motivate, heal, and even save lives. It’s why I love both reading them and writing them.

Recently my long-time speaking colleague and friend Glenna Salsbury passed away. As soon as I heard about her death, I thought of the letter she wrote me more than 25 years ago. The title picture of this post is from her note. It starts…

“Dear Tim,

Your name continues to surface as who has impacted so many lives – I think I have mentioned this to you before. Your fans include Barbara Hemphill, Cheryl Austin-Brown, Joel Weldon – our mutual mentor – and many others.”

I had no idea I had made any impact on my speaking colleagues at that young age and certainly not Glenna, the president of the National Speakers Association that year.

Glenna was a legend, and she left a great legacy behind. Many people wrote tributes about how her mentoring and encouragement made a difference in their lives. Hundreds of people celebrated her life recently in Scottsdale, AZ. The speeches resonated with similar themes of the impact she had on others.

In honor of my father and Glenna, I’ve written more than 40 handwritten cards to friends, family members, and clients this month. I am hopeful that one of the letters will be saved and read over and over again just as I have done with my father’s and Glenna’s letters.

While some of the following may be obvious, below are some do’s and don’ts for writing letters:

  • Keep note cards, postcards, and stamps with you as you travel
  • Use time waiting at appointments to write short notes
  • Be specific on how the person you are writing to impacted you
  • Acknowledge something about them that they may not know
  • Thank them for the kindness they demonstrated
  • Take your time
  • Check your grammar
  • Don’t write with the expectation of a returned letter or card or to ask for a favor
  • Don’t stretch the truth
  • Don’t rush, use good handwriting
  • Avoid gratuitous flattery
  • Don’t wait too long to acknowledge something someone has done for you

Words matter. Thank you, Dad and Glenna, for demonstrating one of the most important ways we can pause to express gratitude and love for the people in our lives.

#Pausitivity #Appreciation #ThankYou #Gratitude #LeadershipDevelopment

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