Saturday, June 1, 2013

I Can No Other Answer Make, But Thanks, and Thanks.

I teach my students to send thank you notes. My mother taught me to send thank you notes, and I am teaching my own children to do the same, so it only seems fitting that I should educate my students about the emotional weight of a sincere thank you.

A few years ago, I heard Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg comment in a radio interview - or maybe it was someone commenting on Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg - on the importance of thank you notes. Apparently, Jackie taught them to send thank you notes without fail, and even today, Jackie and Caroline's thank you notes are cherished for their warmth and sincerity, not to mention their historical significance.

So when I sold my book, currently titled The Gift of Failure, to HarperCollins, I set out to convey my gratitude. To every teacher, coach, pastor, parent, administrator, blogger, and reporter who caused the article "Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail," originally published at the Atlantic, to go viral.

The piece was published on a Tuesday, it was "viral" by Wednesday, and by the following week, the trajectory of my life had changed. Suddenly, pipe dreams were reality by the end of that month, I found myself with my dream agent and a book deal.

Therefore, I owe a hell of a lot of people thank you notes.

Every day, after school is over, and before my evening begins, I spend about an hour figuring out who shared my article, who took the time to tell their friends and colleagues about my writing.

I try to send real, snail mail notes, but you can't imagine how hard it is to find physical addresses for bloggers and reporters these days. School districts, yes. I can address something to a particular teacher or coach, care of their school district, but it's hard to get email addresses, let alone physical addresses, for most people.

Blogging Tip: If you'd like to be contacted with ideas, thank you notes, or free books, please make an address available. At the very least an email address, but even better, a physical address. Even if it's a PO box.

Gratitude, conveyed with sincerity and care, is underestimated in our society, but it's such a gift. It's been challenging to teach my children about its worth, mainly because developmentally, children are often such self-centered, empathy-challenged narcissists. But I will keep pounding away at that particular lesson until it gets through.

Because over a lifetime, there will be so many people to thank.

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