I’m starting this episode right away with the Bottom Line on Top, which is simply this: Words matter. And sharing those words may matter more than you think.
I was reminded of this through a story that starts with a question. So I’ll ask you: What is the most valuable land in the world?
Some may think it’s a plush property in Paris or a mansion in Miami. But the insight behind this question centers on real life, not real estate.
While there are many variations with a similar answer, I especially love the way author Todd Henry answers this in his book Die Empty. This is what he says:
“The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard. In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thought, ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow.’ One day, however, their tomorrows ran out.”
This hit home for me again just yesterday when I got a call telling me that my former mentor had passed away unexpectedly. In hearing about her death, one of my first thoughts was about how wide and well she lived.
She had just returned from a vacation with her husband and together they had enjoyed many great adventures. She saw the Northern Lights, road gondolas in Venice, and road tripped across Route 66.
She was one of the top executives at our global company and spent many days on the road. I still vividly remember when she told me she was leaving the company. She shared that she was doing so in part because her youngest child was in her last year of high school. I had very young kids at the time and she said to me: “Enjoy these years. I’m taking time now to make a few more memories while I still can.”
Hearing that shaped how I approached the jumbly balance of life and career and was a big part of why I took an extended sabbatical years later and made special memories. We stayed in touch over the years and when her husband threw her a surprise birthday party a few years ago, I got to give her a letter sharing how much I learned from her. Her passing held a little more comfort in knowing that I had shared that with her.
My good friend Andrea Driessen calls these efforts ‘grace notes.’ In her TEDx talk called “Eulogies for the Living,” she encourages us to give the gift of words to one another. As a hospice volunteer, she often heard the whispered wishes of words left unspoken. I’ll add a link to her talk in the show notes, and also wanted to share a few comments from her talk here. So here they are with my great respect:
I call this intentional honoring of others “Gracenotes”.
And whether they’re written or spoken,
they’re this means of freely and openly acknowledging
someone’s presence and gifts.
I know in my bones that these sentiments lessen the pain of grief
and increase its grace.
Like a musical grace note,
they’re that extra embellishment
that makes something beautiful even better.
With Gracenotes, we let our family, our friends, our kids,
even our colleagues know not just that they matter
but how they matter.
… your note, no matter what form it takes,
is like an oasis in a desert of people
who are thirsty to know they’re making a difference.
Ah, such a beautiful snippet from her inspiring story.
As you move through the days ahead, see where you can offer a few words to a few people. It’s not the medium or the message that matters, only that you share – in your own way – how each person matters. Gratitude is a gift that we receive more from the more we give it.
And with that, I’ll close by saying how much I appreciate the time you spend with these words. That matters, a lot, to me.