Recently a friend of mine credited some recent success in her creative pursuits to me.
I was stunned. I didn’t advise her on her writing work. I didn’t give much in the way of pointers or do any of the heavy lifting on her work.
“How could you thank me for your success?” I asked.
“You encouraged me,” she answered.
For years she had a writing teacher who nitpicked her work and gave thousands of notes and made her feel bad about her writing work and about herself.
I read her work, which was good not great, and said that she could go further. I gave a few brief pointers and some constructive criticism. I told her I believed that she could accomplish what she had set out to do. And she did.
All it took was some positive reinforcement.
After we got off the phone, it occurred to me that I too currently have someone in my life giving me a great deal of positive reinforcement. I’m doing some consulting work for a celebrity author. The head of his marketing team is giving me the space to flesh out my ideas and is letting me fail and succeed. Every idea is important—even the “bad” ones. And I’m seen as smart even when I say something that could be perceived as foolish.
Whenever I’ve succeeded at the various points in my life it’s been because I’ve had someone give me a dose of positive reinforcement to carry me along. I’ve just never noticed the pattern before.
It’s tremendously important that as we set out on our goals and survey new territory, we actively seek out people who will encourage us along the way. Encouragement is not a “yes” man, or an “I hate it” person. Encouragement is someone who acknowledges and celebrates the successes and failures, strengthens the wins, and calls you out, gently so, on your BS.
There’s a second component to creating a base of success for yourself.
Find a way to move beyond hand-to-mouth activities.
When the basic human activities of finding food, shelter, and clothing are achieved; it is then that we can move toward functioning on a higher level to whatever goal we’d like to achieve.
Even if it’s a small step toward reducing hand-to-mouth activities—it’s a giant step in the right direction.
Examples could be finding a way to make more money in less time, finding a faster route to work, creating an investment portfolio, saving money by cutting back on your fast food addiction and replacing with fresh food, and so on.
There’s a conscious thought process of plotting and planning and testing, trial and error to move forward in taking less time or automizing hand-to-mouth activities. The good news is that it will get easier over time. The other good news is that it’s a constant process… meaning you’re not the only one in constant pursuit of making your life efficient, therefore you have billions of people from whom to ask advice.
When you seek out that positive reinforcement and work to make your life efficient—you have a solid foundation that no metaphorical earthquake can shake.