Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference in people’s lives.
I changed jobs recently. The little things that had gone by seemingly unnoticed over the last few years all seemed to bubble up into well-wishes and personal reflections, as my everyday interactions and relationships were about to shift dramatically.
It’s nothing glamorous. One engineer said to me, “I still remember my first presentation—you were sitting next to me and gave me a pat on my back. That gave me a lot of courage.” I remembered that presentation too. It was a technical knowledge-sharing session and she was presenting to a large room full of fellow engineers. I was sitting next to her, and I simply wanted to give her a small gesture to cheer her on.
I too had been reflecting on the many small yet personal and special moments myself. “I’m rooting for you,” the executive had whispered to me as I was preparing to go on the stage. He had made a point to stop by my side to say this; I knew then that he was genuinely interested in helping me and seeing me succeed. Out of all the big splashy milestones or dramatic events over the years, these small acts of personal encouragement and support have been, and continue to be, the most special and impactful for me.
A leader’s commitment to diversity and talent development may be seen via public speeches or sponsorship in formal programs, but almost always, true commitment is manifested through the smallest, often private, actions that this leader does, mostly unnoticed by others. It doesn’t require much of a time commitment to reach out and show a small encouraging gesture, have a chat, and show that you care about someone in a personal way. It does take a conscious act.
I’m grateful for the many personal inspirational moments I’ve had in the last few years (many of which were with someone on another continent, over the phone or chat channels). As I look to pay it forward, I’m now more mindful than ever of the power of small acts of personal support or appreciation. And to those of you whom I’ve had the privilege to know more personally, I’m still rooting for you.