I say this with confidence, but please note that I did not gather data points and chart out my findings and come to this conclusion worth publishing in professional journals. This is no more than an observation that I’ve been noticing more and more lately.

Here goes it.

All successful people turn praise right back around.

To be fair, we all have a different definition of success. Financial success. Entrepreneurial success. Interpersonal success. Just plain happiness success. But I’m taking them all – all versions of success fit this reality.

They give it back. If you tell a successful person that you admire and respect their capacity to handle all the things and still get their kids’ hair cut and manage meals and put on shoes, she will smile, say thank you (they don’t deny the compliments of course), then top you up.

“Well, you are my inspiration daily. The way you are always so supportive and generous, your sweet disposition with your family, and the way you hold down that important job. Full respect to you. Thank YOU for being you.”

And somehow, in the flash of a moment, it’s all about you and your glorious ways. All of which I’m more than sure are accurate.

So the bottom line rests here. Give it out, dish out the love in a true and authentic way. Of course, giving a friend or child a completely inaccurate compliment just messes with the whole system. But learning to spot the awesome traits in others and point them out only makes all the ships in the harbour rise. Or however that saying goes.

To bring it around to our children is a little different ball game. Empty or “too often” or unmerited praise for their puny effort to get out of bed in the morning or get to the bus stop on time or feed the cat risks creating entitlement. It helps teach kids that it’s easy to succeed in life and that success really is a pretty low bar. Don’t need to really do much of anything to be awesome at everything. This, of course, helps no one.

But true and specific encouragement of our children creates in them an important framework of personal value. Praise the process and create an attitude of competency. “I worked hard and I failed. Then I worked hard and succeeded. And Mom was there to encourage me and high five me the whole way. My efforts paid off.”

Over time, they will learn that they are confident enough in themselves to be able to spot the amazing qualities of the people around them and take the next step in giving it out.

I PROMISE you. Finding the joy in building up the people around us only helps us all. We need each other. You grow, I grow. I grow, you grow. Let’s do this all together.