Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

A meaningful gift of words….

Happy 2008!

I recently came to the end of my volunteer term as President of the Rochester Women’s Network, a professional organization of over 500 professional women. It was a rich year—full of transition which gave me a great opportunity to experience leading change first hand. I’m grateful for that. In 2008, I look forward to the shift of serving on the board as advisor, and as a voting member.

My colleagues on the board of directors gave me a wonderful parting gift—one of the best gifts I’ve ever received professionally. I want to share it with you in the event you might see an opportunity to use the idea to generate or coordinate a gift for a colleague, friend or family member. Here’s how it goes.

Ask each person on the gift recipient’s team, or in the individual’s family or circle of friends, to create and print out a one-page document reflecting the following:

At the top of the page ask each contributor to complete and write this sentence: (Insert name of recipient) is….. Ask each contributor to list up to ten single words that he or she feels best describes the person as a leader (or colleague, or friend, or grandmother, etc., as applicable for the gift.). At the end of the created word list, ask each participant to complete another sentence: What I appreciate most about (Insert recipient’s name) is….. This part of the message can range from one sentence to a full paragraph depending on the giver’s personal message.

Once you’ve collected the individual pages/messages in hard copy, the packaging can range from very simple (place them in envelopes in a gift bag) to extravagant (place them in a velvet box). Either way, the recipient will receive a treasure.

I once heard of this idea used as a gift for an elder in a family, who told her grown children that every year around her birthday, or during the year when she might feel low, she takes the gift box out and is warmed again, by reading through the personal messages from her children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Hope you like the idea and can use it sometime, professionally or personally.

Here’s a thought, in addition to this gift idea—whether it’s a special event, or simply a day at work, we all appreciate being recognized with a genuine gesture or word of praise. If you haven’t offered such a word or gesture in a while, why not do so today?

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