Happy Birthday

“It takes a long time to become young.”  Pablo Picasso

At this point, it is not too important to be accurate on the exact number – that is, the number that represents my age. I have been around a long time – let’s leave it at that. I hope to be here for at least a few more years. Without excessive revelation, let’s just say that I am in the fourth quarter of my life. Happy Birthday! Hmmm.

While I really don’t seek anything special for my birthday, I was amazed by the large number of folks who sent birthday wishes via the Internet. Platforms of communication varied from emails, texts, Linked-In Posts and Facebook greetings. And, then, there were all the surprising phone calls . . .the family ones were special, especially those from my grandkids. Happy Birthday! Yea!

All this attention reminded me of “The Gift of the Goose,” a success principle presented by co-authors, Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles in their book, Gung Ho!  Through a story-telling method, these best-selling writers emphasize the significance of praising others – recognizing each person’s work performance and achievement.

We may say, (as I do often), that on the occasion of a birthday or in our work effort, we do not want any special attention focused on us; but deep down in the inner recesses of soul and spirit, we thrive on praise and appreciation. In a sense, it is an audit of our lives. We want to know that we are making a difference. Honest praise provides that evaluation.

Zig Ziglar, a distinguished motivational speaker, wisely advises that in every criticism from others, we need to counteract with a multitude of praises.  Unfortunately, typical human nature is to believe negative assessments before considering the positive. When the positives abound, we will generally begin to believe in ourselves. Zig stated that this principle was absolutely essential in raising positive-thinking children for achieving success in their lives.

Belief in our own ability to succeed is far more important than the opinion or support of others. But, which comes first? We need to start somewhere. If you believe in me, I will believe in me. If I believe in me, you will believe in me.

Is any kind of praise okay? Not according to Kenneth Blanchard. It is important that praise is timely. A birthday wish received six months after a birthday – certainly not well-timed — will not be received in the same way in which it would be on or near the day of celebration. Praise also needs to be honest. Bragging about someone’s seeming patience who is typically impatient, does not help to encourage that person to develop the important character trait of forbearance.  Exaggeration about an attribute can do more harm than good.

We need to be careful in praising others, especially with our children, as stated by world-renown Stanford University psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck, in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. We want to encourage others to appreciate their own value, but to also suggest that they continue to refine elements of character where needed – to exercise a teachable spirit. Excessive praise may lead to an individual believing that they have ‘arrived in life’ and no other effort is needed for them to be their best. Balance is required.

 A growth mindset, energized and encouraged by honest, timely praise, is a recipe for long-term success. At any age!

I am old. But, not too old!

Today, I will believe in you and me.

I will provide timely praise.

I will encourage a growth mindset.

Happy Birthday!