In his strange and exhilarating book The Society of Mind, Marvin Minsky writes, “In general, we’re least aware of what our minds do best.”
This is another reason I think it’s so important to tell the people around you what you appreciate about them: A person’s gifts may not be as clear to them as they are to you. In fact, most of us don’t have the perspective needed to really know how our attitudes or actions contribute to those around us.
To you, Helen is exhilarating and refreshing. You love the way she finds opportunity and laughter in whatever comes her way.
To Helen, Helen is just Helen. She is unlikely to exhilarate and refresh herself like she exhilarates and refreshes you.
If you think someone is impressive or admirable, if you think someone has a superpower, tell them. Let them know what it means to you.
Brad Stevens is shaping up to be one of the best NBA coaches of our time. Appreciation is a key component of his doctrine. He identifies a player’s superpowers and builds on them. Through an open recognition of what each player is good at, he helps his players become more cognizant of their strengths. Sure enough, as these players better understand their strengths, they employ them more frequently, and those strengths get even stronger.
Tell people what you appreciate about them. It’s easier than being critical and it can be just as effective—if not more so—in helping your friends and teammates develop and grow.
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