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Lead With Praise, Not Critiques

My favorite quote is from Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Too often we humans appoint ourselves into the role of critic. We all do it. We look at a person, and take the pieces we view from our vantage point, and fill in all the blanks. Usually our imaginations fill in negative thoughts and opinions, where we have little or no knowledge, and we undermine the efforts of people who are in the arena fighting the good fight.
There is an old saying that you can store lobsters (or maybe it is crabs) in an open topped box, as when one tries to crawl out into the world, the rest of the crustaceans in the box will grab hold of the one trying to escape and pull it down. Sadly, it is true of humans too. Public praise for those who are attempting new things is not common. While many do not openly critique, pay attention to how often (or rather how seldom) you see people positively reinforce others. It is indeed rare.
My observation is that people are good and do not intend to undermine one another. But in our busy world we are all saddled with heavy burdens of responsibilities, and it is difficult to find the time to make others enough of a priority that we even notice what they are attempting. Additionally, the admirable activities of some can leave the best of us feeling inadequate. It is natural to seek out the flaws in their armor.
I challenge all who read this article to fight against the urge to be just one of the lobsters in the bottom of the box today. Don't be a critic. Instead, find one person to publicly praise before the end of the day.
Take President Roosevelt's words to heart and honor someone who is taking the risks – and make sure they know they are your hero.
Thom Singer, CSP is known as "The Conference Catalyst", a speaker who mixes meaningful content with a high energy presentation style that results in audiences gaining new knowledge and taking action on what they have learned. Thom can be reached through www.ThomSinger.com or (512) 970-0398.


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