Celebrating a Truly ‘Grand’ Column

Rick Kraft

What have you done 1,000 times before? I am talking literally, not as a figure of speech. What have you done once a week consecutively for 1,000 weeks? Well, I can now add another thing to my list.

Today’s column is significant to me because it is numbered column 1,000 — 179 of which have now appeared in the Review. Every week for over 19 years I have had a Just A Thought column published. In order to maintain the sequence in my computer folder, I number each column. If you could see my list you would see the first column was given No. 1, and then each column thereafter is numbered in sequence up to last week’s, which was No. 999.

Today’s column will be assigned the number 1,000.

I had lunch with Carie Salter, an owner of the South Pasadena Review, last year, and we discussed the Just A Thought column. She said that it will be real exciting when I reach column number 1,000. Well Carie, today I am there!

So please allow me to reminisce over the past 19 years. This column began at the insistence of a friend who pushed me to write a book with the lessons I taught in a leadership program I headed up. We decided the best way to write a book was to write a chapter at a time.

I approached the editor of my local paper, and in March of 2000 gave him four sample columns. I told him I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to read the sample columns I wrote. He read them and called me back.

He thought they would be received well and suggested I write the column weekly. Knowing each column would take a lot of time to write, I suggested I submit a column every other week. He said they needed to be done weekly or monthly. I told him I would work hard to put together a quality product each week.

The first Just A Thought Column was published on May 1, 2000, titled “The Choices We Make.”

Each week I start with a blank screen and a prayer. It is my hope that whatever happens next is somehow able to positively impact as many readers as possible. Each column is intended to make a difference.

It takes a lot of time to write a column. Some take longer to write than others. Starting a column is easy — I have over 250 columns started on my computer. Finishing a publishable column in not so easy and takes focus, time and commitment.

The column is syndicated from coast to coast. It reaches tens of thousands of readers each week. Because of this, I get comments from all over the country. When someone sends me an e-mail on how the column has impacted their life, I often e-mail back, “Which newspaper did you read it in?” I have had comments from as far away as France and Germany. See if you can figure that one out for me.

I have people tell me that they have cut columns out and saved them or posted them on their refrigerator. I have had readers tell me their grandmother mails the column each week to them for them to read. I have had people tell me portions of my columns have been read at a funeral, copied for graduation, and even read to a jury. This column is too short to share all the different ways this column has been shared. I will never know the lives this column impacts. Nor will I meet all the people impacted. One of my challenges in my own life is to positively impact people whom I never meet in locations I have never been. This column is a means of doing this.

I find writing these columns very fulfilling. When you, the reader, send me an e-mail or a note or tell me in person that the column makes a difference in your life, it makes a difference in my life and motivates me to continue writing Just A Thought. At times I have considered encouraging each reader to send me an e-mail to let me know you are a reader … it would be interesting to see your response.

Every column has ended with a challenge. I have heard from some longtime readers that they literally seek to implement my challenge each week.

I am grateful to each loyal reader and every reader who has lifted me up with comments on a column or columns. I don’t get paid financially for my weekly efforts. I receive something better: my compensation is your applying my messages in your life. That is why I write Just A Thought.

I doubt there will be a column numbered 2,000, but who knows? My column count almost ended at 982 when I found myself in the ICU for five days in February fighting for my life with a blocked aorta issue.

So how do I take a celebration for me and turn it into a challenge for you? I believe I am using a gift I have been blessed with when I write each column.

You have gifts and talents that others around you don’t have. Make sure you are using your gifts and talents, not for yourself, but to help add value to the lives of others.

So now column No. 1,000 is a wrap. God bless each of you for reading this column each week and for helping celebrate my 1,000th column. I look forward to bringing you a new message next week!

Just a 1,000th thought …

Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, a motivational speaker, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org.


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