Sarah talked me into looking at an organization called Women on Fire. The founder, Debbie Phillips, sends out an email titled “The Spark!” once a week or so. The most recent one was titled “Your Powerful Impact.” It describes the effect a friend had on her life during a dark period, by “showering her with praise” and expressing confidence in her future. Debbie challenged her readers to think of a woman whose gifts and talents they’ve noticed, but not remarked upon, and then let her know.
OK, then, this all sounds kind of Oprah, but I have to admit that it’s true. Those kinds of compliments (lousy word for it, but can’t think of a better one) make a big difference. And what a great power to have — by simply telling the people around us what we see in them, we can empower them to achieve it.
I didn’t get along with my fourth grade teacher. I was a wonderful student, but Miss Martin hated me. Other mothers told my mother, who didn’t talk to me about it until years later. Miss Martin insisted that my best friend, Debbie, and I were “too close” (meaning we liked to play jump rope together), and that we would no longer be allowed to be friends. Each of us was instructed to pick a new friend, which we did, unfortunately the same girl. Because we were such good friends, we both said “No, you can have Patricia as a friend, I’ll find someone else.” That infuriated Miss Martin, of course. Needless to say, it was a bad year.
The next year, I was put in a sixth-grade class, along with 6 other fifth-graders, because the fifth grade classes were full. Miss Gurley, our poor teacher, was expected to teach both grades. Of course she didn’t; we just all took sixth grade together. I got my first report card at the end of the 6-week grading period. Miss Gurley not only gave me all A pluses, but she wrote “Raechel is a pleasure to have in class” in the comments section. Here I am, nearly 50 years later, and I can picture her handwriting as though I have the card in front of me.
The people who believe in you lift you up. They make it possible for you to achieve what you can barely imagine. I am fortunate to be surrounded by creative, talented, brilliant, courageous, and compassionate women. Many of them encourage me constantly, and I cannot adequately express my appreciation. How about this for an aspiration? I’m going to start letting them know, in little ways, what I see in them that makes me happy I know them.