Last week I was speaking to a lovely group in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. I was telling them about my niece's first gym competition. At the time she was 9 and I was (and still am) a very doting and enthusiastic aunt! In between exercises (which I must say were not that exciting and seemed to me to consist of them just standing on the balance beam and holding onto the parallel bars and letting go) she would sit on the floor with her "best" friend.
I had cheered silently -- but very visibly -- every time she did anything as I was so proud and thought that the recognition would secretly be loved. Well, after a little while of me doing the thumbs up and smiling enthusiastically and mouthing "excellent!" she turned to her little friend and whispered "she's not my Mum -- she's only my aunt!" Unfortunately for her I thought it was very funny! And it only made me do it more! I knew that at some level the encouragement was worth it! Today she is 15; I am blessed that she still speaks to me! In fact, she feels very secure knowing how much I love her. So I figure a little embarrassment is worth it!
When I had finished telling my story, Roger came up to me after the break and said he would like to share a story about his then 4-year-old nephew. Apparently, Roger was staying with his brother who had a 4-year-old son. It was the son's first gym competition as well and he invited his uncle to come watch him. When Roger asked what he would be doing, the little 4-year-old said, "TA-DAs!" Interested to see what a TA-DA was, Roger went along and saw his little nephew do the first exercise. It was walking along a balance beam that was about three inches from the ground. At the end of this heroic exercise, the little fella jumped off the balance beam, threw his hands up in the air and shouted, "TA-DA!" At which point everyone madly clapped and cheered!
Think of how many times you have seen toddlers and little children do a "TA-DA." And think of how enthusiastically we encourage them at the time. Sadly, the TA-DAs are not rewarded as we grow older -- it's not considered appropriate for grown-ups to "TA-DA!" What a pity!
We have to wait for other people to notice we did something and hopefully they will recognize us in some way. Teens would be the last people on earth to TA-DA -- but they may be the people on earth who most need recognition and encouragement.
Amanda Gore is an author, award-winning motivational speaker and joy facilitator. Her philosophy is that Joy is an Inside Job. Finding joy is the secret to more productive, creative, successful and happy humans -- at work and home. Amanda is also the director of The Joy Project.
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