My brother-in-law (who I love dearly!) is an avid collector of autographs: Athletes, musicians, comedians, television and movie people, some CEO types, political and royal figures. He has an extraordinary collection that is a walk down many Memory Lanes when we are together, and he is showing off his latest acquisition. His is a museum-quality collection due to its span of history and its depth.
My brother-in-law is an appreciative fan. He will send personal letters to these famous people, sincerely acknowledging their talent or reflecting upon how they have impacted him in some way. He sends photos or books or record albums or sports items with his request for a personalized signature. Most everyone he reaches out to complies because they are so touched by his sincerity. Collecting autographs is his hobby—his passion–and it brings him pure joy!
He called me the other day to tease me about his latest outing. “Guess where I went?” he asks, and I immediately know it has something to do with autograph collecting. “Okay, whose did you get today?” I ask with sincere, eager curiosity. He tells me how he went to a “Star Unveiling” at the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the 70’s singing group The Village People and there he got an autograph from each villager (remember the policeman, the cowboy, the construction worker, etc.?). He got autographs from Greg Louganis and Charo who were also there (go figure!). We laughed about our Village People memories, marveled at Greg Louganis and his Olympic success, and pondered Charo’s success and longevity (and talent?). This is the joy and sharing that comes from his hobby.
And what I also notice is my brother-in-law is spreading appreciation and acknowledgment to people for doing something in his world that made an impact whether for a moment or his lifetime. My brother-in-law marks his life in many ways, one of which is by a movie or a song or a joke or a sporting event. He lets people know their song made a difference or their movie performance shed some light. He takes time to let people know they touched him in some way.
What does showing appreciation and sharing acknowledgment look like to you? What are the risks you take when offering acknowledgment? When you offer it, how do you know it is received? What happens to you after you offer acknowledgment that is received? What do you notice?