Are birthdays important in your household? When I was young, my sisters and I would count down to our birthday. We would make a list and remind every one of the big day.


As I have grown older, celebrating my birthday has taken a back seat to children, work, school, and the challenges of life.

My sixth post in this series based on the 7 Day Intentional Living Experiment, leading a life of significance, is “surprise people with how much they matter.” Now let me tell you how others showed me how much I matter…

While celebrating my birthday became less important to me, it became an opportunity to my faculty and staff to surprise me and show how much I matter to them. How did they make a positive impact on my life? They threw a surprise celebration for me!

Let me explain why this was a special treat for me. My birthday is in August, which is a great month for birthdays, however it is normally during the first week of school. Therefore, we are very busy with starting the school year off on the right foot. Our day is consumed with welcoming students back and administrative functions.

Celebrating my birthday is the last thing on my mind. My focus is on my students, faculty and staff. My goal is to make sure everyone has a great day. I spend my day walking the campus, visiting classrooms, encouraging others and answering questions. At the end of day, we are all exhausted and ready to go home. So when my faculty and staff took time to celebrate my birthday after a long and exhausting day, it not only made my day but created a memory I will cherish.

As a leader, how do we put people first and let them know they matter?

Leaders are dealers in hope.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

To be an effective leader, we must put other people first. Our goal should be to add value to others by empowering and celebrating them. Secure leaders give power away. “Leading well is not about enriching yourself – it’s about empowering others” (John Maxwell).

How do we begin thinking of others first? Before we can answer that question, we need to make a shift in our thinking. Why? Because we are naturally self-centered people. Therefore, we have to recognize fulfilment and significance comes from adding value to others.

James B. Stockdale once said, “Great leaders gain authority by giving it away.” So how do we begin thinking of others first? In his book Intentional Living, Maxwell offers five steps to help us with our mental shift:

  1. Develop a great appreciation for other people – think of the people who have added value to you, then ask yourself “how can I pay it forward?”
  2. Ask to hear other people’s stories – listening to others helps us get outside of ourselves and shows us how we can help them.
  3. Put yourself in other people’s shoes – when we put ourselves in others situation, our perspective and attitude change.
  4. Place other people’s interests at the top of your list of priorities – shift your thoughts from “what will I reap” today to “what will I sow” today.
  5. Make winning a group activity – be a good team member and invite others to help make a difference.

When you can change your thinking from ‘What am I going to receive?’ To ‘What am I going to give?’ your entire life begins to turn around.”
– John Maxwell

Take time now to scroll down, share this post on Facebook, and surprise someone with how much they matter to you…

Your friend,

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About the author

Hi, I'm Kim, Your Leadership Guide. I equip aspiring leaders to lead with confidence, emerging leaders to expand their influence, and accomplished leaders to achieve significance!