“And then I realized—everything in my life is a love letter.” — Hannah Brencher
As many of you know, Catalyst University 2015 took place now more than a month ago. Shortly after the event, I had a pretty successful leader in town approach me to talk about his experience. He said he had a great time and that he walked away with a lot of insights that he planned to implement into his leadership right away. However, as he was talking about Hannah Brencher’s work at More Love Letters specifically, he expressed that he thought it was really neat, but said, “I don’t know what I would do with that personally.” This is a very cut and dry guy, but it got me thinking that perhaps others felt that same way. So here’s what I said to him…and now say to you.
We love what Hannah is doing because we think it is important to lift people up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be done in this same way – through love letters on a massive scale, but what if you took that concept and found a way to implement it even just within your own teams? Just think how powerful it would be to select one person on your team and have everyone else leave a “love letter” on their desk, on the same day, that tells them how important they are to the team. If the word “love” bothers you, call it something different like an “I appreciate you” note or a “diamond drop” or a “catalation.” Call it “Fred” if you want, but just think about the incredible impact that would have.
Or, consider how powerful it would be for everyone on your team to send that letter to the spouse of a team member who might be in a season where they are working long hours and not spending as much time at home. Or, if you know a family member of a teammate is struggling with an illness or a recent loss. Think about how much those notes would mean to them. But not only that, think about how much engagement, loyalty and pride it would build in your team to be a part of an organization who thinks outside itself on this level.
Take it one step further, and, as a team, share notes with someone in your community who is going through a tough time or needs some extra encouragement. Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. This is an easy way to do that.
What we weren’t trying to say, by having Hannah share her story, was that you need to write letters and leave them anonymously to old ladies on trains. Hannah’s story is about taking something small, but heartfelt, and multiplying it in a selfless act of kindness. When I shared these same thoughts with the leader I referenced earlier, it seemed to make more sense and I hope it does for you too. He even admitted, “Ah, yes. I guess I was being a little too literal.”
And that’s okay—especially with big experiences like Catalyst University, it is hard to unpack everything on that level and make it fit your day-to-day world. You see, the problem with mountaintop learning is that you eventually have to go back down in the valley, where everything looks different. As leaders, we need to help each other remember and apply those mountaintop principles to our everyday work, lives and callings.
Hannah really touched a lot of people. In fact, one of our team members received an email from someone who attended Catalyst University asking if he would write a letter to someone who was struggling after being placed in a nursing home. This person had reached out to maybe 50 people asking them all to participate in her own personal campaign. I received another note of great vulnerability from someone who said, “I’m going through a lot in my life right now. Sometimes those of us with faith ask for prayers, but I need love letters.” I don’t even know her well, but I know how scary and brave it is to write a note like that.
This is the true power and impact that Hannah had and will continue to have on us, and in the world around her.
Question: When you look at the example of what Hannah is doing, what small steps could you take to have a big impact on your world?