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Main : Books : Chicken Soup Series

Rich Beyond Measure
  by: Christine Barnes, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

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Today I feel rich beyond measure. What began as a new idea for my department's celebration of the holiday season has become a very moving and enriching experience.

I was tired of the usual "draw names and buy a joke gift for under $15" way of holiday celebration, so I proposed that we try something different. "How about giving each other the gift of acknowledgment?" I asked. Everyone agreed; they were even enthusiastic. A few days before Christmas, six of us gathered in my office. To start, I asked that we all observe a few ground rules. The person whose turn it was to be acknowledged could only say "thank you." I also pointed out that it might be natural to feel uncomfortable giving and receiving acknowledgment, but if some people were truly uncomfortable, they could ask for their acknowledgment in private. Silence and pauses were deemed to be all right. They were probably just opportunities to let the good stuff sink in.

As we began our process, it struck me that the tribes and communities that pass their cultures along through storytelling are very wise people. Invariably, whoever was speaking would tell a story that illustrated the acknowledgment he or she wanted to make.

Each of us started our communication by saying to our colleague, "(Name), the gift you give me is ..." As each group member spoke to the person being acknowledged, I began to see sides of my colleagues of which I wasn't aware. One male staffer acknowledged another male for his state of grace that shone through. Another said, "I rest easy knowing you are the one in your position." Other comments included "You give me the gift of your patience," "You listen to me," "I knew the moment I met you that I belonged here," and so on. It was a privilege to be there.

The spirit and connectedness we shared for those 60 minutes became bigger than we were. When we finished, no one wanted to speak; we didn't want to break the spell. It had been woven with heartfelt, authentic, simple truths that we had shared with each other. We were all humbled and enriched by it.

I believe we will always treasure the gifts we gave each other that day. I know how priceless my own acknowledgments were for me. It cost each of us nothing but our willingness to see the gifts in others and to speak it out loud.




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