A Surprise Message After 40 Years

Never would I have imagined that a postcard, sent 40 years ago, could have had such an impact.

But a few weeks ago, I received this email from a former classmate:

“I wanted to share something with you that you gave me right after graduation and I’ve kept all these years (see below). As you can see, the postage at the time was 16 cents!! Ah, the old days! That small wooden block/postcard with the words “When All Else Fails, Try a Prayer” has been with me (on my dorm or home desk, wherever I’ve lived) for the last 40 years. And it’s been a reminder of what I need to do when things don’t seem to be going well. It’s funny how the small things we do (like this gift you gave me) can have such lasting and important consequences. So thank you Laurie!” –J.F.


I was stunned. It arrived at a time when I wondered if I was having a positive impact on anyone. And I don’t even remember sending the postcard, or why.

I’m sharing this personal experience with you not to prompt a pat on the back, but for a more important reason:

How many times have we considered a gesture, but never did it because we didn’t think something so small would make much of a difference?

We never know, do we?

Have you heard stories about someone who got a handwritten thank-you note from their boss or co-worker and posted it in their office, cubicle, truck or toolbox? How about the youngster who earned an unexpected coupon for a free dessert after doing something good? Rather than redeem it, he hung it on his bedroom wall for years.

Often recipients don’t do what my friend did, so we rarely know if we made a difference.

But you DO.

And it’s usually the smallest things that have the biggest impact.