Last week when I picked up my mail, I was surprised to see a book delivered that I did not order. When I l looked at it more closely, I saw that it was sent to me from a former student. He was the author -- and wrote about his successful, albeit turbulent, journey through law school.
More importantly than that, he wrote a three-page inscription, thanking me for what I did for him while he was a student. "Despite my academic downfalls and periodic bouts with trouble and controversy, you always supported me and often directed me to constructive solutions. (I realize I likely put you through hell.) While I may not have always taken your advice, I respected you and what you tried to do for me with SGA, TKE, etc. You are certainly a big reason I was able to take the lessons I learned in leadership into my profession and life..."
I have not heard from Jeremy in almost 20 years. He did put me through hell as an outspoken student government president. When I last saw him, I would have never imagined he would be the one writing such a heartfelt and eloquent note in a book that he authored. And yet, apparently I made a difference in his life, just as his inscription made a difference for me.
Handwritten expressions of gratitude are incredibly powerful things. Take that extra few minutes today to let someone know the impact they have had on your life. If you haven't been in touch for a decade or two, so much the better. It's never too late to let someone know that they mattered.