The Box-Giving the Gift

Posted by Brenda Yoho
The box.  A blue present with silver ribbon with pink as the background color

Have you ever been given a beautiful box? You can’t wait to see what is inside it! Then you open it to find it empty?

the box is empty

Maybe you experienced a joke or maybe you are getting what I am really trying to say. You can decorate, wrap things up beautifully, but it does not change what is on the inside. Fake it til you make it….just an empty attempt. Motivating or trying to make everyone happy does not always work.


Some people work really hard to take the time to do things to lift up others and it can fail. People sometimes are just not in the mood to receive fun items connected to cute things. I once spent time in thinking about how to use some extra materials we had we wanted to give to others by using my dad’s name. He was always a giver. It just so happened his name was Walt. Ironically one of my favorite leaders is Walt Disney. So when we sent the resources of to staff we used the message from Walt and a cute message.

Complaints came into the Superintendent’s office from of the staff members instead of gratitude for the fun stuff they received from my office with a message from Walt. They thought it was not a good use of time or money. They indicated the time of my sub secretary and those who had to deliver the items to the building. What they did not know was many things behind the gifts sent. However, I choose not to address it with providing that information. Instead, I stated, “I am sorry you feel this way and we will not do this moving forward.”

One of my favorite quotes speaks about not blowing out the candles of others to get yours to shine brighter. I wanted to let my staff know we would continue to do positive work each day, we would listen to the complaints others made and adjust. I let them know Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are as happy as they let themselves be.” I just went a little over the top and I will calm it down to stick with our principals. I reached past them to the teachers and obviously it did not go the way I intended. I saw an opportunity to give to others while we were cleaning and reorganizing our space. Have a little fun while doing some cleaning and reorganizing at a possible move.


When we provide feedback, complements, encouragement or anything to try to improve or inspire others, it is best practice to know they will not look at is as getting an “empty box.” When you are saying or doing things that are not authentic people know. If you are not out in your buildings and visible, how do you know what is working. Roll up your sleeves and be out there in order to provide the right information to others.

Another one of my favorite leaders is John Maxwell. I have read, heard him speak and listen to him as much as I can. He has said, “people can’t do what I do”. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to hear his words. “People can’t do what I do, until they do the did of what I have done to get to the do.” I get it!!!

You cannot do what anyone does until you do the did of what they do. Give everyone the credit for the did! They have worked hard each day and recognize this first. You cannot give them any kind of advice, constructive feedback or support until you provide credit for the did! Recognize the did in their journey that has gotten them to this point.

Getting rid of the empty box

  • Give credit first to doing the “did”-all of the skills they have in what they are doing daily and continue to do to get to this point
  • Next you can provide items to lift up because they know you understand the “did” of what they do-they will not see an empty box.
  • Then you can begin to provide a little of the “do” when you say, “may I show you what I have “done”?-a relationship of trust has already begun because you did all of the work in order to do what you needed in order to get to the “doing”.

No need for all of the beautiful wrapping, just getting out there to the did so everyone will see what you do to make the school, company or organization better.

I have to be honest, I still do the inspiration, motivation and what some may say is “Hallmark”. I do this because it is part of my did. I have always been “Hallmark” and it is part of who I am. I can adjust it, scale it back and understand when others think it is too much. However, I still feel it is important to always find joy in the day, love all and always give more than you receive.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2023 Brenda Yoho
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