Self Improvement: The Climate for Growth – Earl Nightingale
One day several years ago I stopped my car for gas at a service station in Hollywood, California. While the middle-aged owner of the station cheerfully went about taking care of my car’s needs, I noticed that while the station was by no means new, it was spotlessly clean, I was particularly amazed by the driveway; it was as clean as if my car were the ﬁrst to use it.
I asked the owner how in the world he managed to keep the driveway spotless with dozens of cars dripping-oil and tracking the dirt of the highways on it. He told me how a common. product, sold in every supermarket, was in his estimation the best driveway cleaner in the world. He beamed in response to my comment on the way he kept his place of business. It was a valuable moment for both of us: I learned something of value, and he experienced the pleasure of honest praise.
The need for praise is basic to everyone. With it, a person blooms and grows. Without it, he tends to shrink and withdraw into himself.
I remember reading about a woman who left a dozen jars of homemade jelly on the kitchen counter top for several weeks. Finally, she asked her husband to carry them down to the basement. It was only then that he noticed the work she had done and complimented her on it.
We all know children need constant praise and encouragement. When a child brings home a piece of art work that looks for all the world like an unfortunate accident, he still expects an encouraging word. But his need for encouragement is no less than his mother’s and father’s. Far too many mothers and fathers aren’t getting any praise, or at least not nearly enough.
Understanding the importance of self-esteem and seeing the never-ending need for reaffirmation of a person’s worth, we should make it our business to watch for honest opportunities to give praise—especially to the members of our families and those with whom we work. There is a subtle but enormously valuable by-product of backﬁre to this sort of thing: In order to praise others, we need to look for the good. It forces us to concentrate on what’s right with people and the things they do, rather than on what’s wrong. It focuses our attention on the positive side of the ledger and, as a result, makes us happier, more productive, and more pleasant to be around. Then, too, people like those who praise them and recognize their value. When we give praise we attract a larger circle of friends. And ﬁnally, giving praise is the best known way to receive it. It’s hard for anyone to compliment a chronic grouch.
Whenever you hear someone say, “Nobody appreciates me … nobody gives me credit for all I do,” the chances are he is so wrapped up in himself and in getting happiness from others, he has completely forgotten how to give.
We should try to ﬁnd some way to commend those we love every day. Praise to a human being represents what sunlight, water, and soil are to a plant; the climate in which he grows best. He does not just want it, he needs it as he needs the air he breathes.
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Also published on Medium.