Atta Boy

I recently saw a great talk by Jeffrey Tambor. You might not recognize the name, but you would recognize his acting work – for example as George and Oscar Bluth in Arrested Development.

He had several great messages about how to realize the best of yourself, and get past the hangups that may be holding you back from what you REALLY want to achieve (your dreams), whether they be overbearing parents, addiction, or fear.

I wanted to share a great message about celebrating success. He said we don’t say “good job” and “atta boy” enough with others – our kids, our co-workers, our employees, ourselves. He hammered home the point by giving the audience an ovation for over a minute, telling us all the great things we had done, how nice of an audience we were, and how far we were all going to go in achieving our dreams. He made the right point at the start that we would feel uncomfortable; it might be why we don’t give out enough good jobs, because we aren’t comfortable accepting them ourselves.

I know this is true at many levels, and in my own company and with my own leadership style. We have high expectations and forget that’s it shouldn’t just be assumed that meeting those high expectations is par for the course. Our internal research showed the ratio of positive reinforcement to negative in our company was way out of whack, something like 5 to 1 negative when we thought it should be more like 2 to 1 positive. We’ve set up some great ways to recognize people, but of course there is still nothing like a simple “thank you” (or an atta boy, or a good job).

So let’s take Jeffrey’s lesson to heart and give more recognition to others. Take a minute to send an email to a few of your employees recognizing their recent work; write a hand-written note to someone who has made a difference for you; call your significant other and thank them for being a source of inspiration in your life. They will feel better, and maybe they (and you) will be able to break through one more barrier to achieving our dreams.



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