"That's just the way you are," she said.
It was like it was the first nice thing anyone ever said to me. I know that isn't true. People always say nice things. I just never feel comfortable hearing them.
But there was something about this. Perhaps something I needed to hear. Maybe something I longed to hear again, but with a different tone.
It was Administrative Professionals Day and although we had already made plans for gifts and a small lunch, I wanted to thank them in my own way. So I purchased two small potted mums on my way to work that morning. I walked in the door and handed one to each of the two wonderful ladies who do so much for all of us, but it was their friendship I was acknowledging today.
They were both very appreciative. Later after the celebration ended one told me she had forgotten what day it was. So this really was a wonderful surprise.
It would be the very next day that what I had done would return to me hundred fold.
When I walked in the door that morning, I was greeted with the same beautiful smile I saw each day.
"Bob, I just wanted to tell you how great it was for all that was done yesterday," she said.
"Well, you deserve that and more!" I replied.
"I was telling my sister how surprised I was. I said you had walked in with flowers and thought nothing of it, because that's just the way you are. I mean you do things like that all the time," she said.
I was stunned. I heard, "that's just the way you are," and stopped listening.
From that point on I had the most incredible day. It may be hard to understand this, but I don't have a lot of great days. Oh, the days are always great, but my attitude toward them isn't.
Shocked to hear me say that? It's true.
Monday through Friday I watch ABC News. At the end of the news cast Charlie Gibson always says, "I hope you had a good day." Some days tears run down my face.
That day I rushed into the living room just to hear him say it.
"I did, Charlie! I did!" I shouted.
When the darkness of night came blanketing my bedroom, lying there I tried to figure out why this one particular day was so incredible.
It was because Ann Marie said, "that's just the way you are." I realized that she saw me as one who would do such things just because. That I was caring enough to do something, or show love to someone because I wanted to.
I have been that way all of my life. I was always the kid who shared whatever money I had, candy I bought, or time I had available with people who needed it more than I did.
But no one ever recognized that. No one.
The only other time I heard it was when, while going through my divorce, my first wife told my son Keith, "That the way your father is, he wants to save the world."
She didn't mean it in a nice way.
I do, by the way. I want to save the world.
So, last Friday, when I walked into the office I knelt down next to Ann Marie. I told her, "Although I am an inspirational writer and speaker, I have a poor self image. I do lots of things for lots of people. Many are perfect strangers. When you said, "That's just the way you are," you validated me."
I then went on to explain that she was responsible for the first really incredible day I had in awhile.
"Just the way you are." Look at the power of acknowledging something good in someone. Look at the impact a simple expression had on me.
She helped me to see what she saw in me. The me I struggle to be.
If someone would say those words about you, what would they mean?
Because, "That's just the way you are."
"I believe in You!"