Some years ago on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Seattle, a young Catholic priest stopped to talk to a parishioner and her five-year-old daughter Carmen. The little girl had a new jump rope and the priest, being young, began to demonstrate the intricacies of rope jumping from his own childhood. Delighted, Carmen began to jump – first once, then twice. The mother and priest clapped loudly for her skill. Eventually the little girl was able to jump quite well on her own and wandered off with her newfound skill.
Priest and mother chatted a few moments until Carmen – with sadder, wiser eyes – returned, dragging her rope.
“Mommy,” she lamented, “I can do it, but I need lots of clapping.”
How come so many people are stingy with praise? Or perhaps never offer it? My dear wife Jody told me years ago that her mom never gave her a compliment to her face. Oh, she may have bragged about Jody graduating as an occupational therapist from Western University in London, Ontario. But if so, Jody never heard those words. Far more sadly, Jody had no memory of her mom ever saying “Goodnight” to her. And it gets worse: Not once did she hear “I love you.”
Do we think that there’s some giant teeter totter where if I raise the other person up, that means I fall? No, life is not a “zero sum” game. When I hold you aloft, my toes leave the ground.
So I’m on the lookout for anyone who does anything well. My hands are ready to come together for you.