Acknowledgment Isn't Just for Teams

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I always have plenty to say about acknowledgment, but in this post, I'm going to let you draw your own conclusions from portions of a letter I received from W. Pond, PMP. During my session on acknowledgment at the PMI® Global Congress 2009--North America, Mr. Pond says he found his mind turning to his first mentor, Tom:

"The two of us met in the hospital; patients with similar diagnoses. Tom would complete treatments two weeks prior to me. As a result he would prepare me for what to expect and the lessons he learned to make things more bearable for myself.

[We stayed connected during our recovery] and found ourselves taking  many walks together and when one or both of us was too tired we would sit [and talk in] front of the fire.

Tom later offered me a position with his [telecommunications company]. He [taught] me more about business, management, operations and ethics than any university. I have been in so much debt to him and my personal appreciation was given in a conversation where only a verbal thank you was provided.

During the session, as suggested, I drafted a letter of acknowledgment to my mentor:

Dear Tom:

Death comes to all of us faster than we all expect, as we both know. You and I have been through more than we would like.

I wanted to thank you for all that you have done for me. You sacrificed so much even in your time of need. You embraced and assisted me despite your own family and financial responsibilities.

I need you to know that all of my professional and personal successes can be attributed to your influence.

Memories of our walks and conversations by the fire about life and the meaning of being a man will always be treasured.

You were twice my age and my best friend.

Thank you for listening and providing comfort even in your own pain and anxiety. Thank you for hiring me and giving me the chance to find my own niche.

This has been so long in coming. I apologize for not sharing my utmost appreciation years ago.

Now, as I hold my wife, I recognize the things she loves in me were given to me by you. You have given so much of yourself without asking for anything in return. For these things, I wanted to thank you. For these reasons, I love you.

It took a while to find Tom. We had a phone conversation discussing our lives since the hospital. I sent my letter acknowledging his role in my life. Since that time I have felt a closeness to Tom once again. Sending this out has provided me a clear conscience and a renewed friendship.

While I continue in my role as a project manager, husband and father, I hope to acknowledge those in my life in a timely manner. If you're wondering whether or not to acknowledge someone, take it from me, do it. Do it now, today."

Thank you Mr. Pond for being a demonstration of the living, breathing power of acknowledgment. You moved everyone in our session deeply with your story--leaving many of us in tears. You cannot begin to know how far the ripples of your story will be felt and acted upon. 
Posted by Judy Umlas on: December 30, 2009 12:04 PM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Joyce Jones
This is a timely entry on your blog. We just watched the movie, The Bucket List, again this week and Mr. Pond's relationship with Tom is much like the one that was in that movie. Both acknowledged having gained much from their relationship with one another. Both shared this with each other. It only goes to reinforce that it is the people that make a difference in all facets of our lives, especially in contributing to our project successes. Thanks for sharing.

Judith Umlas
Dear Joyce, Thanks for your excellent feedback. Yes, acknowledging the people we care about both at work and outside it makes a huge difference. You are right that project success depends on the relationships we develop with our people, which can be greatly enhanced by acknowledging them in a heartfelt and authentic way. I like the reference you made to The Bucket List. You may want to try out another, much shorter film: "Who You are Makes a Difference." You can see it by going to It really drives this home, and make sure to have a tissue or two handy when you view it. Best regards, Judith W. Umlas

Heidi Baker
I do not know Mr. Pond personally, yet his heart and soul can be felt in every word of his very powerful letter of acknowledgment. Thank you so much for sharing.

It is truly amazing what happens when we let go of the daily stress & pressure to share a bit of ourselves through the power of acknowledgment. The stress and negative energy we hold onto can be transformed into positive energy that inspires everyone involved (including the readers of this post).

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