The Power of Checking In

Posted on November 20, 2020

November 20, 2020

Dear UNCG Community,

“I have found that among its other benefits,
giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
– Maya Angelou


As we wrap up the fall semester and look ahead to an extended winter break, I have been thinking about what we can do to make a difference, have an impact, and take positive steps forward as a university and as a community. We are in a time beset with big and highly complex issues. The challenges can seem overwhelming sometimes, and truth be told, it can be downright exhausting. But it does not have to be hopeless.

We can create optimism and offer inspiration. In fact, we can each do something right now that is free, easy, and can have a positive impact, both individually and collectively. I call it the “check in.”

I urge all of us – students, faculty, staff, alumni – to take a few minutes out of your day and reach out to someone in your circle (a friend, family member, mentor, protégé) to find out how they are doing. Ask if they are OK. Find out if there is anything you can do to help. Extend a hand, lend an ear, and if needed, offer a shoulder to cry on.

Think about this for a moment: If our 20,000 students and 3,500 employees all take 5 minutes to check in, that is 117,500 minutes – nearly 2,000 hours – more than 80 collective days of extending kindness.

It is so easy for us to be consumed by the day-to-day rigors of life in 2020, by our anxiety and trepidation, by the hurdles in front of us that can appear insurmountable. But at this moment it is important that we step outside of ourselves. That, even for a few minutes, we share our humanity in an intentional way. “Why?” you ask. The research literature tells us that this is an act that not only makes the recipient of the “check in” happier, but also lifts the spirits of the person reaching out. Be in the moment when you do. Listen. Engage. Believe me, it will be good for your soul.

So, as you take a deep breath and perhaps breathe a sigh of relief that 2020 is coming to a close, be proud of the hard work you put in to get here because you earned it. And then think about the people you care about, the people who could use a little something positive, the people who need to know you are thinking about them. Take 5 minutes. I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Thank you, happy holidays, and as always, Go Spartans!