We walk past them like the unpopular kids from high school. There they stand incredulous to the idea we would dismiss them so completely. Heads drop, shoulders sink, defeated. We overlook them, these moments that could turn into the best times of our lives, passed by without a hint of acknowledgement.
Let me set the stage, parent’s night, third grade; I was bursting with excitement. That is an understatement. I knew it was going to be the best night of my life!! I was going to make my Dad so proud. I couldn’t wait to hear the words. Something like, wow, that is amazing or great job! I am so proud of you.
Earlier in the week, we began to prepare for the onslaught of people, this parade of parents. Art class, one of my favorites. I loved drawing, creating and g-l-i-t-t-e-r. At that time, what did I love drawing the most? Horses! I guess in a lot of ways, I was a pretty typical third grader.
There we were crafting art to hang in the hallway for parent’s night. Right then, that very day; I drew the best horse I have ever drawn previous to that moment. It was amazing! I added some trees and a few birds. I also loved bird watching and yes, drawing birds.
When I was finished with my masterpiece, other kids in the class noticed my drawing. They loved it. Someone asked if I could draw a bird on their art project. I did. Then another kid asked me to draw something. Soon I had an actual line, a line of kids wanting me to create extraordinary things on their art project.
What, me, the biggest nerd, the geekiest, shyest thing ever invented. They loved my drawing! I was good at something?!?!? I listen to each classmate’s request and I worked hard to make everyone happy. Oh, how wonderful parent’s night was going to be.
I am not sure how, but I survived the long wait. I can only speculate on how much I babbled that week about my big day. I was pretty chatty at home, since I never talked to anyone at school. A peculiar thing, my mom was the same way and so are my nieces. If you ask my husband, he will tell you how I saved it all up those first years, because now I just talk and talk and talk and talk. Ha ha! I love to talk.
Finally the big day had arrived, it was just my Dad and I. My mom stayed home to watch my young brothers and sister. I remember the moment, that exact moment when we got to my drawing in the hallway. I spotted it and pointed. My 6’ 7” Dad crouched down to view my drawing that was hung at a tall third grade girl’s eye level. There it is Daddy, I can still feel how my face lit up!
The next moment, my world crashed down around me…he didn’t say it. He didn’t say it. He said it was nice and then he told me, you know what you can do next. You can add in lines here and there.
I didn’t say it. “Daddy all of the kids think it is the best. Do you think it is the best?” No, I was a bit stunned. I thought it was the best I had ever done, I thought he would be proud.
You see my drawing was just an outline. I didn’t add any muscle tone or shadowing. I was in third grade. No, my drawing was not good enough. He wasn’t proud, he wanted me to do better. I failed.
Now, if my Dad were to read this I am sure he would be a bit dismayed by the way his words were misconstrued, but he shouldn’t be. There is no fault here. I simply didn’t understand it then. Now as history has repeated itself, I began to realize there is powerful magic where opportunity is involved. It works in all sorts of ways.
Even though this profound moment for me was not experienced in the exact way my Dad had intended, I found the gift nonetheless. I will thank him for this clarity the rest of my days. Indeed there is a very fine line, between appreciating success and continuing on to the next leg of our journey. So fine, you might walk right past it. Even though it was there, within your grasp, this beautiful, amazing, uplifting, yet so very fragile moment. Undetected becoming simply a sad, crushed, missed opportunity.
I believed this moment to be left in the dust, sitting around feeling sorry for its self. Now with my eyes anew, I know it doesn’t matter when you salute your success. Do it now and do it often, even if you only pause to whisper to yourself, good job! Or say it out loud. THAT IS THE BEST HORSE I HAVE EVER DRAWN! Really hold that moment for yourself or gift it to others. Wow, how amazing are you or how amazing are we! I am so proud right now at this very moment.
The moral of this story…as much as humanly possible, praise your dog, praise your kids, praise your family, praise your friends, praise your co-workers, praise your cat, praise em’ up!! It’s free; it is rewarding and strengthens your relationship.
If you don’t stop to appreciate things, how will anyone recognize when they did something amazing? If my leader doesn’t focus on the moment, the good stuff and acknowledge when great things happened, how will I learn it is rewarding to keep giving the world great things?
Leaders you wield an awesome power! Gift it whenever you can!
Look for the good stuff! Foster this in everyone you know, the soft and the bold will flourish. It’s difficult to over do and it’s okay to redo, if you missed an opportunity! There is still time to celebrate all of our awesomeness!
Brought to you by, the dog trainer that at first missed praising her sensitive, under confident doggie enough outside of structured training. Not realizing that this pup would blossom by being told at every turn in his regular daily life when he was doing good things. Telling him when he was wrong, only undermined his confidence. I would love to gift to you this idea of how powerful a tool praise is for building confidence, bonding, encouraging strengths and enhancing excellent life choices.