Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Two words. These two words can change your mood, they can change your mind, they can change your heart. I'm gonna make the case today, that these two words can change lives and change the world, if we understand them and we leverage them in the right way. This is not an ego thing. This is a DNA thing. We were created for significance. And one of the most dangerous things that can happen to us as individuals, as organizations, as a community, is the feeling that we don't matter. On Tuesday of this week, I was 14 hours with these significant people. I was stranded at the airport in Milwaukee, and we weren't feeling very significant that day. The looks on our face, were just craziness, because we had spent 14 hours, not knowing if we were going to get home, there was a huge storm, there were no cars, there were no hotel rooms, there was something that this world series - kind of thing - going on in the world, something unimportant and insignificant and we were desperate. Not simply desperate to get home, which we were, but desperate for a human being to look us in the eye, and say to us, "You matter." I see you as a human being. Think about the last time you heard those words, as a human being, "You matter." "You were indispensable." "You were a genius." "I couldn't have done it without you." "I couldn't have made it without you. " "I'll do whatever it takes, because you are that important." Those are life changing words, and for us, those were the words we were hanging on. We were desperate. It was nearly midnight. We were going to have to sleep on the floor of the airport, until we met Annie. And Annie finally looked us in the eye and saw a single mom with two kids, and she saw a family of five with a baby that hadn't eaten for hours, and she saw two college students, and a honeymoon couple and she saw me, desperate to get to home, to get here. And she said, "I see you. I'll do whatever it takes." Now, she couldn't work the world, she couldn't stop the rain from coming, and she couldn't make a hotel room appear, but she noticed us and she said we are going to help you. And after she got everyone settled, I found Annie right before she was gonna leave, and I grabbed her and I said, "Annie, thank you so much for making us feel significant. You noticed we were in the incumbent area of the airport, I don't know what that is, but it's not a good place to be. It's not where significant cargo goes." And she started crying, and I'm like we are all crying because we hadn't slept or eaten -- I said, "I wanna call your supervisor. I want to write in and I want to do something, I want to tell them what you did today really mattered to us." And she said, "It's not gonna matter. I am the supervisor. Nobody cares what I do." In fact, she said, "I don't know the last time that I've heard someone say they cared about what I did." She said, "I actually want to thank you." And I walked away and I got home and I got settled in and I could't get Annie out of my mind. I can't put her picture in because apparently that's against TSA regulations, I tried to. (Laughter) She's like, "No, no , I'll get fired." So just imagine Annie because Annie is every single person in this room. Annie is the person at your work. Annie is the person in your neighborhood. Annie could be you, sitting there wondering, working and living and learning in a place where they do not feel significant, where they do not feel like "No matter what I do, no matter how hard I work, no matter what I accomplish, is there anybody in the world that is going to notice me and is going to care that I got up and I showed up today?" That is a tragedy. Because we, as human beings, have the power to change that. It is an incredible, significant power that we choose not to act upon in the busyness of our lives. We forget these two simple words and omit them from our conversation and from our priority. I want us to change that. Because people that matter know that when they are noticed, when they are valued, and they are depended on. Those are three lessons that have been the foundation of my work as an educator for 22 years. No student ever would leave my classroom I would not be doing my job, if they didn't know they were noticed. If they didn't understand why they were such a value to my classroom and to other students and that I could trust and depend on them. These are not lessons that are just simply reserved for the classroom. These are lessons that every single one of us must take and have the opportunity and obligation to take into your classroom, your boardroom or your community, your neighborhood. I'm going to show you what those look like and sound like as you navigate through the world. As a writer, noticing is a big part of my job, so I never go anywhere without my writer's notebook I'm constantly writing. I spend a lot of time in weird places, like airports, and I'm writing all the stories the people I meet, the incredible lessons I get just by waking up in the morning. I keep track of them and I fill notebook after notebook after notebook. I got the chance to be in a school, it was an outside school from kindergarten through eighth grade and of course I had my notebook and it didn't take the students very long to notice after every classroom that I was walking through, they were like coming up to me. "What did you write in notebook today?" "What did you write in notebook today?" I said, "Oh, I witnessed a genius. I absolutely witnessed something indispensable to your learning. So I would write it down." And they are like "Really?", and then I put names in it. "Oh my gosh, I know that person." And then the next day, I got to be there for two weeks, so the next day they come up and they start handing me post-it notes. "Here, while I was out, I noticed you might want to put this in your notebook." And I thought "wow" and after a couple of days I thought, "Well, this is silly, I got this gold in my notebook." I asked the superintendent if I could spend the first two minutes going into every grade level, in every classroom just for two minutes today. Just give me two minutes a day. And all I'm going to do is go and read my notebook with the morning messages. "Today boys and girls, this is what your assignment is, oh by the way, I have to tell you what I noticed yesterday. Alicia did something amazing. When I saw her working on her writing dada dada da -- "Oh my gosh, you guys, you would not believe this. I noticed a third grader doing this yesterday --" And I might be saying that to a seventh grade classroom. Three days, kids were carrying notebooks. They were writing down things, they were meeting me, they were helping each other. I could not believe the power of noticing and sharing what you noticed. So I was just about to get on the plane, again in the airport, to leave, and a fourth grade class, had an emergency message over the intercom they are like, "Mrs Maiers, Mrs Maiers, I need you to come down to the fourth grade classroom." I'm like, "What did I forget in there." They sat me down in a chair, very serious looking. and they are like, "You have a problem." I'm like "I know this." (Laughter) "You have a problem." They are like, "Your notebook is almost full and you are losing stuff all over, you are a mess." So they went together and they bought me this. A new journal. And what is powerful about this is that they gave me every number imaginable because in case I needed a break, because noticing is a lot of work, they are gonna take over for me and they each have a notebook and they send me and there's a little "Ask Angela" button on my blog and they blogged me "This is what I noticed." And they are my noticing ambassadors. So, "Here's my mom's number," "Here's my cellphone number, " "Here's my emergency phone number," "Just in case you see something or we see something while we are out and about. It has to go into your notebook." Because they know I'm going to write about it, talk about it. Phenomenal. What if you carried a notebook? What if you made it a point to go back to your place of work or to your neighborhood or at the grocery store today and you make note of what you noticed. How indispensable it was. How genius it was. How significant it was. It changes people. And what I found at the school, it changes a culture, by just simply noticing, 30 seconds a day. Kids aren't the only ones who struggle and who strive to be noticed. Big people, spend a lot of time trying to get noticed as well. This is a real time counter on the web. Just look at it for five seconds. Five seconds, in real time of the world, right now, here as we speak, what are they trying to do? They are trying to be noticed. The web is not a data stream. The web is a life stream, and the significance of our life is dependant on how other people see us. We have a chance to tell people: "I'm so glad you got up this morning. I noticed you." It changes everything. My second lesson. Noticing something that is significant is important but being able to articulate -- and that's the power of the notebook -- Being able to articulate to someone exactly what you noticed and why that quality was indispensable or why that attribute was significant. That's what really comes down deep. The need to know you are a value, is about as deep as they come. So, I thought, "Well, I'm going to take this a step further. I'm going to see what would happen if I added a sentence." Not just "Oh, I noticed you Mike" but "Mike, I noticed and here's what I noticed. Everytime I see you, you make me smarter." Because I know Mike, so I can say this. "Because you ask the best questions. You are one of the most curious human beings and I prepare myself with a good question, everytime I see your face. That is significant, in your life but it makes me smarter." If I help them understand that their contribution is what the world needs and what I need at that moment. So I started beginning my lessons with this statement that I borrowed from Seth Godin. This is from his book, "Linchpin" and I wanted to see what effect it would have and I could see just how much the words I noticed meant. But what if I started the day, every lesson, every audience, every speech that I give this is the first slide. "You are a genius and the world needs your contribution." Blank. And I tell them what their contribution is. This is not just a compliment. This is a call to action. Because guess what Mike? I just raised the bar, so if Mike comes to me and he doesn't have some brilliant question on his mind, he's gonna step it up.