“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.”
— Mary Kay Ash
On a sunny and crisp autumn afternoon, I took a run. For five miles I puffed and panted; up hills and down; past creeks and woods, houses and apartments, ducks and egrets; finally arriving back home, rivers of sweat forming beads then dripping onto the pavement below my feet.
No one cheered. No one congratulated me on a job well done.
I didn’t expect them to, in fact, very few people have ever clapped for me at the end of a run, even though I’ve been running for almost seven years. There is usually just silence broken only by birds and my laborious panting.
Contrast that with the cheers and applause filling the gymnasium at my daughter Hayle’s volleyball tournament this morning. Every point, every dive, and every extra effort was followed by a chorus of hoots and claps. And at the end of each match, there was an extra round of commendations and high fives.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Nothing obvious. We cheer the kids for a variety of reasons. We don’t cheer people working out because we’re not supposed to. We cheer at the game, not the practice. It is what we’re conditioned for. It’s just what we do.
And yet, we don’t cheer when an author releases a new book. We don’t cheer our tax professionals for finishing our 1040 tax form. We don’t cheer the mechanic for unsticking that super-tight lug nut. We don’t cheer the software engineer when they release a new version of their application. In short, we don’t care when someone does what they’re paid to do. Or what they’re “supposed” to do.
Stop now. What if we did?
Would it feel pretty good if someone gave you sincere and specific compliments everyday? What if we heard hoots and hollers for taking the extra time to help a customer with a problem? What if we heard ten compliments for every criticism, every single day?
At first, it would feel awkward. But I think that pretty quickly it would start to feel good. I might even be more motivated, have more self confidence, and more courage to take other challenges.
We don’t cheer for the routine because we’re not supposed to, we’re not conditioned to.
Change that, starting today. Find people in your life who are doing good work, going a little further, or making a difference. Then ask about their project. And most importantly, cheer them on. Not just once, but everyday. Make sure they feel important. You’ll be making a difference in their life.
As for me, I’m going to keep on running. But I’m going to find a way to cheer the people I meet along the path.
And to everyone, working hard out there, making a difference…
Cheers! (to you)
Line judged many volleyball games for my daughter’s volleyball team, cheering on the girls, their coaches and their parents.