Giving the Precious Gift of Kind Words

My friend Melissa is one of the most generous people I know. She blesses the lives of many in a very special way. When the moment presents itself, Melissa never misses an opportunity to lavish sincere praise.

Not only does she express her kindness to others by issuing compliments, Melissa does so in a significant way.

The other day I was the recipient of one of Melissa’s bighearted gifts. She attended a presentation I gave at a business meeting. Not only did she absorb and remember the message I delivered, the next morning when I visited my Facebook page Melissa tagged me in a post.

Other friends might have sent me a quick private message telling me they enjoyed my presentation. Not Melissa. She wrote a lengthy paragraph of “shout out” praise to be viewed on social media. Her act of kindness was extremely generous and an example of how Melissa goes out of her way to lift up people making them feel special.

Generosity is the virtue of giving freely and abundantly. Sometimes we give time, in other instances money or material goods. People like Melissa find innovative ways to make the world a brighter place with carefully chosen words.

Khalil Gibran is quoted as saying, “Generosity is giving more than you can and taking less than your need.”

Wise words to live by and yet, conversely, we can all identify acquaintances, perhaps even family members, who either refrain, or rarely think to offer up an “atta girl” or extend encouragement. Often in my coaching practice I encounter individuals who talk about never receiving a compliment from a parent, sibling or their boss.

Denying a deserving person a word of praise is the opposite of being generous. In fact, withholding admiration on a consistent basis can even be a form of emotional punishment.

Not everyone is as highly skilled as Melissa in the art of a compliment. If you are holding back praising others because it feels awkward, or you fear doing it wrong, just practice. Start small.

Try telling your boss you like her dress (if you do). Next try focusing on characteristics and skills. Perhaps your coworker wrote a procedure streamlining a task and making your work-life easier. Applaud that action, verbally, in writing or at a staff meeting in front of the boss.

There is only one rule when passing out compliments. Be sincere. Coupling sincerity with generosity makes your compliment memorable.

Make a point of issuing gracious compliments this week. Gift others with words of praise. Remember it costs you nothing to be kind, but may mean everything to someone else.

Labeling a Winner

Recently I clicked on an interesting blog about a young man who at the age of fourteen set a goal of getting straight A’s throughout high school. It sounded like an admirable achievement so I read on to observe his strategy.

Steven attained success by employing two distinct methodologies. After considerable research and reflection of his past grades, he discovered students who earn lower grades employ last minute study habits. Attempting to tackle assignments at the eleventh hour adds an element of pressure. Kids who do so often end up frazzled and tired when sitting for an exam. What is key to an A student’s approach is immediate learning and processing of new information.

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Okay, that’s not rocket science. Anyone who has ever popped No Doz and pulled an all-nighter can testify to the stupidity of the process. Sure you may end up passing with a mediocre grade, but studies performed at UCLA claim inadequate sleep patterns cause a compounded issue. Habits of cramming and sleep deprivation result in greater academic problems.

The flip side of avoiding last minute cramming into the wee hours of the morning is keeping up with assignments on a daily basis, a process Steven took seriously. Before engaging in playing any video games, he completed his homework. Again, not an earth shattering breakthrough approach, just a matter of establishing an uncomplicated habit.

What really impressed me about Steven’s commitment to earning straight A’s was a mindset shift involving a new label. He began thinking of himself as an A student. 4.0 became more than a goal, it was his identity.

Adopting a new persona was a theory worth testing, and I did. After contemplating this approach, I purchased a new workout shirt that reads: #Fierce. It is pink and cute and something new to wear to the gym a place I dread but am forced to frequent because “The Punisher,” my personal trainer, (AKA Brad Kingsberg of Nutri-Power Fitness) expects me to show up.  But here’s the thing, I now have a new label. When I brand myself #Fierce, I act the part

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performing more like an individual who enjoys pumping iron and strength training than a sleep deprived class C student who can barely make it through the last set of chest flies.

Want to change the way life is grading you? Change your label. You can over-perform in school, at work or on the playing field. Begin by instituting some positive habits, and be sure to create a new winning identity.

Walk Off a Winner

 

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Baseball is back! My husband and I both share a passion for the game. Fun fact: on our first date, John took me to a baseball game.

As I begin to get excited about trips to Anaheim to cheer on the Angels, I smile remembering an eventful game we saw last year. It was on a scorching hot day in July. Due to the blazing blistering sun, we relinquished our seats near the field in the fourth inning and went off in search of shade and a hot dog.

Grilled hot dog

This worked well to improve our taste buds and body temps, but did little to boost our morale as our Angels were trailing.

As the innings progressed, I reflected on my dismal outlook and reminded myself there was only one thing under my control: my thought process.  Teams come from behind all the time and I knew a win was a possibility. As the bottom of the ninth inning commenced, I shot my husband an “oh ye of little faith look,” then doubled down by reminding him there is no crying in baseball. Not giving up I coached him into some positive thinking and then set my sights on a walk-off win. Closing my eyes I visualized a victory achieved by the trailing Angels resulting in a game over, end of story.

Excitement mounted as the team started to rally. What happened next was rather unusual. The Angels did accomplish the win by scoring at the plate due to a wild pitch. Wow! The crowd went nuts!

Of course I know my positive thinking did not cause the pitcher to fire in a wild one, but it did improve my outlook and made the game more enjoyable.

Baseball, like life, is sometimes error laden. At times you’re batting 1,000 and covering all the bases. Then someone throws out a curve ball

Baseball through broken glass window.

and we find ourselves striking out just like Casey in Mudville.

Scoring a walk-off win brings with it, not only glory, but an important life lesson. Games either on the field, or on life’s arena, are never won by giving up too soon. Going the distance takes fortitude, perseverance and the guts to play it out to the last pitch. As so aptly put by Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

At some point, most of us are guilty of giving up on something too soon. Often this is caused by a lack of focus or diminished self-confidence brought on by, you guessed it: negative thinking. Bombarded by those inner gremlins chattering away in our heads proclaiming

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it’s too hard, we buy into the premise that it’s never going to happen. Before long we’ve mentally checked out before the final inning.

This week remind yourself that giving up too soon is for losers. Recommit to your most important goal and chase away those nagging negative thoughts. Winners have staying power and sometimes even get a lucky break like an unexpected windfall, or a wild pitch.