Seeking and Acknowledging Invisible Greatness

image of a transport truck pulling away from a stack of transport containers with a plane flying overheadlMy friend leads the team in logistics and supply chain. The job is perfect for her. She’s ridiculously organized and a ninja problem solver. She is a diplomat in a sea of conflicting objectives. She cares deeply about doing exceptional work every day.

And she’s exhausted.

From navigating the shortage of trucking professionals to backups in supplies sitting in cargo container imports to a lack of products or the containers in which to ship them, to rising inflation and gas prices, complications of her role are hitting on all sides.

“Nobody knows what you do until you don’t do it.”

This powerful statement was shared with me by the President of the Medical Devices Reprocessing Association of Ontario (MDRAO), Jeffrey Phelps when I prepared to speak for them at their conference in April. How ironic that the first time (since COVID) that I saw my friend in logistics was the night following my keynote for MDRAO. Their stories were sadly similar, or at least, how they felt.

This post is for all the behind-the-scenes heroes out there.

Acknowledging Invisible Greatness

image of a person with no head to show invisible greatnessWhether you are the behind-the-scenes hero in a hospital sterilizing equipment, ensuring that every single procedure in that entire organization goes smoothly (like the folks with MDRAO), or the Director of Logistics who ensures that every product flows from the production line to the customers’ hands (like my friend), it’s the seamless ballet that happens behind the scenes that people expect. It’s hard to appreciate what you can’t see. The absence of problems is a tough recognition sell.

Then, when there are cracks, people are not always kind.

So let’s take a moment to reflect: Who are the invisible heroes behind the scenes in your life that do important work that is so invisible to everybody else because when it is done well, nobody notices? I will bet my kids’ college education savings bank that they would agree with Jeffrey’s sentiment above. They hear more often when things don’t go well rather than an acknowledgement of an appreciation when it all goes according to plan.

Recognize With Me, Will You?

Here’s how we can take today to recognize the greatness we can’t easily see:

  1. Identify
    Identify one person, one department, or even one association to reach out to and thank.
  2. Reflect
    If you’re looking for an idea of whom to thank, take a minute to reflect on your personal experiences. For example, if you or your loved one has had a procedure in a hospital, call the switchboard, ask to speak with the medical devices reprocessing department (sometimes called sterile processing) and when they connect you, say that you’re a grateful patient or a family member of a grateful patient. Explain you want them to know that you are grateful that there were zero errors, no infections, and a safe recovery.
  3. Reveal
    Here’s another idea. Whatever product you depend on that seems to be in short supply, out of stock, and inconsistently available, look up who makes it, and find a way to get a message to anyone in logistics to say thank you for everything they’re doing to make sure that product can get into your hands as soon as possible. Search that company name and logistics or supply chain in the search engine on LinkedIn, inviting a connection and putting in a little note when you send it. Find out the head office’s email and ask them to forward a message, however brief. Find out the head office’s number and ask how you can send a message to logistics.

Why Acknowledging Invisible Greatness Matters To All of Us

We often don’t think about the fact that people spend more waking hours trying to ensure that we have the safe, quality, and consistent access to products, services, and resources that we need to do our day-to-day work and live our best life. If we do not find a way to show our appreciation when the cracks are showing, such as when there is a supply chain gap, or find ways to say thank you when no cracks are showing, such as when we receive safe care, how motivated will they be to keep going in such stressful and overwhelming circumstances?

image of a word cloud in the shape of a heart of thank yous in different languages acknowledging invisible greatenssI often talk about saying thank you when you see glimmers of greatness as you go about your day. By all means, keep doing that. In this week’s post, I’m encouraging you to get curious about the greatness you’re not seeing:

  • where the greatness has been all the way along
  • where we’ve never had an opportunity to recognize
  • where it requires digging deeper to find where greatness is hiding

A Simple Thank You Goes A Long Way!

I know you’re busy. You really don’t have time. However, think of a time when you were that invisible hero, or family members or loved ones who were, and what a difference that would’ve made on your darkest, most stressful, and overwhelming day.

Whether you were thanking somebody for what you see, or you were looking for the invisible greatness so that you can appreciate it, you may be the one that will help them keep going that day. Because, after all, if they quit, switch industries, need to take stress leave from work, or decide to retire early, you definitely will not have the supplies, services, and resources you want and rely on.

Do you want to retain them? How empowering it is to know that you have that kind of influence. Recognition is impactful, actionable, and accessible to every one of us.

What invisible roles do you think we need to appreciate more? Comment below.

For more excellent resources to find the invisible greatness all around you, check out these previous posts:



“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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