Being valued by others is something that most people would rate as impacting their self-esteem and although we can spend time working on not giving a fig and only listening to those who’s opinion matters and trying to believe that only our own opinion matters and all of the rest of that, the bottom line is that it is self-affirming to receive praise and acknowledgement.
A friend and colleague of mine was organising a workbook for some of her students and had contacted Leonie Dawson for permission to use some of hers. We are both massive fans of Leonie Dawson’s workbook and programs and I can’t speak more highly of her work. Not only did Leonie get back to her but she also offered to send down some copies for the girls and heaped praise on my colleague for the fabulous work she was doing. In relaying the story to me the next day, knowing full well how excited and impressed I’d be, she told me how it had nearly brought her to tears to read the email. “All I’m doing is making them a workbook, Ari” she said bemused by it all, “she (Leonie Dawson) doesn’t know if I’m a good teacher or not.”
We had a chuckle and I pointed out that she was doing a great thing for her girls and how special they’ll feel receiving a work book all to themselves as a gift from such a well-regarded lifestyle and business coach. “Isn’t it funny though that being praised like that made me feel so emotional?” she added as she touched her hand to her heart and gently shook her head. “It really shouldn’t have that big an impact”. And there it was… such a true statement.
I had a similar experience this week when a lady attending one of our Empowered Mums Business Network sessions was feeling chilled. The heater was already set to 24 and there was no way to make the room any warmer, especially since it was already pretty toasty. I quietly got up, took my jacket from over my chair and carefully draped it over her shoulders, then retrieved my super soft snood and gently slipped it around her neck. After the presentation as we were drifting around chatting with each other she accosted me and told me what a very kind thing it was that I’d done. “But you were cold!” I exclaimed, in my mind it was obvious that that is want you do.
The reality is that the value of praise is that it is an acknowledgment of our humanity. Yet it comes so infrequently, and often in the areas that we feel we deserve it the most, it is the most lacking. Why, when we receive it for little things that we do because it is our nature, it makes us feel so awkward and uncomfortable? Because we want recognition for the things that we perceive to be great, for the things that took effort and extra thought to accomplish.