I have been a long distance runner in my North Jersey town for decades. I live just off a popular walk/run/dog-friendly tree-lined boulevard and enjoy jogs that include cheerful waves with neighbors. I also know all the local runners and am recognized by them. About six months ago, a new walker joined my usual runners group. His distinctive characteristic is that he claps enthusiastically for all the runners and gives big thumbs-up signs as we go by. At first, it was confusing to have someone cheer for you who doesn’t really know you. Now that I am familiar with him, I would be disappointed if he didn’t cheer me on. When I see him up ahead I wonder, “Is he going to clap for me today? Is he still on a mission to motivate joggers with his friendly acknowledgements?”
I have been running forever and don’t anticipate stopping in the foreseeable future. I am self-motivated in that regard. However, getting a little recognition for doing something well feels really good. It makes me like what I’m doing just a teeny bit more.
The same feeling goes for work. I love my job and give my best every day. But…if you feel like putting some whipped cream on top with a kind thought, who am I to object?
Playing with this feeling of recognition makes me think back to when my children were little and used to get praised for every milestone: “Oh! Look at you smile!” “Wow, look at you sit up by yourself!” But as we get older and maybe a little less adorable, the compliments slow down and eventually they are a rare thing. They are so rare that we need award ceremonies and recognition programs to remind us to stop and appreciate one another.
Ideally, I’d like to see us get to a place where we both clap and have awards ceremonies because nobody outgrows compliments and, might I add, they are as much fun to give as to receive.
Caveat #1: They must be genuinely given.
Caveat #2: They must be graciously received. (And no self-deprecating comments needed!)