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Encouragement Succeeds Greater Than Criticism

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Here’s a story that reminds me that simple encouragement can have a more dramatic effect on performance than criticism.

Decades ago there was a group of brilliant young men at the University of Wisconsin who had amazing literary talent. They were would-be poets, novelists, and essayists. These promising young men met regularly to read and critique each other’s work.

The men were merciless with one another. They dissected the minutest literary expression. They were heartless, tough, and mean in their criticism. Members of this exclusive club called themselves the “Stranglers.”

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I Wish You Enough

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I once read a story about an old man who was saying goodbye to his daughter at the airport. The daughter was going on an overseas assignment, and the old man felt it would be the last time he would see her.

As they were saying their final goodbyes at the gate, the old man said to his daughter, “I love you, and I wish you enough.”

Afterwards, another man who was waiting at the gate asked the old man what he had meant by saying, “I wish you enough.”

The old man smiled and said, “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.

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My Inspiration for Your New Year’s Resolutions

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I’m inspired by the following story to set some New Year’s resolutions, not only about being kind to others, but also about being kinder to myself. What do you think? Here’s the story:

On the way back from work every evening, more often than not, there would be a homeless man standing at the exit ramp of the freeway.

He waved at every car. He was always happy and smiling and sometimes almost dancing.

Every day after work I would gather my spare change, and put it aside to give to him if I saw him. A feeling of joy would come over me whenever he was there as I came off the ramp. He had that effect. His joy was infectious. Occasionally the red light would be on for a minute and we would ask each other about our day. His answer would always be the same, “I’m blessed!”

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My Holiday Gift

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If you’re like me, you search hard for holiday gifts that have special meaning for your loved ones. Fortunately, this year I came across an inspiring story that has sparked new ideas in a whole new direction. Maybe it will do the same for you. Here’s the story:

It’s just a white envelope stuck in the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no tag. A similar envelope has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas—the frantic running at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry—the gifts given because you couldn’t think of anything else.

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Fake It ‘til You Make It

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A friend of mine once said that the way you become good at something in life is by faking your way through it the first few times, until you learn how to do it without faking. That makes sense. Even as adults, there are many first times…a first time you run a meeting at work, a first networking event, a first sale, a first party in your home, etc.

In many of life’s public situations, you don’t want to look new and green; it’s embarrassing, and messing up could prove costly. Even if you explain that it’s your first time and ask others to cut you a little slack, there are still plenty of first, second, third times that you’ll just need to push on.

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The Power of Positive Parables

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Parables are stories that illustrate a moral or lesson. From the Greek parabolē, meaning “comparison, illustration, analogy,” parable was the name given by Greek rhetoricians to an illustration in the form of a brief fictional narrative.

Self-help books, the bible, and zen texts are all filled with parables, and just reading one every now and then can do wonders for a person’s powers of positive thinking. Here’s one I came across that has stuck with me for a while, reminding me that simply deciding something one way or another in advance has enormous power over the outcome.

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Attitude: The Most Important Freedom

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In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was sent to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family had perished. But he, prisoner number 119104, had lived.

In his bestselling 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl describes people who would walk through the camp giving words of comfort to others, even though their circumstances were no better. He concluded that the difference between those who could give comfort and those who couldn’t came down to one thing: Meaning.

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The Lessons of Perseverance

A  bronze statue of Winston Churchill, weighing 1.5 tons and standing ten feet high, is found in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Oscar Nemon sculpted this statue honoring Churchill, the former Second World War Prime Minister of Great Britain,  which was unveiled on January 20, 1980.

According to biographers, Winston Churchill did not have the happiest of childhoods. Neglected by his uninterested parents, he was sent to boarding school at a young age where he would write letter after letter pleading for his parents to come visit him. Most of his letters went unanswered, and he ended up spending a succession of holidays alone at school without even the company of classmates.

Churchill would go on to suffer many failures both at school and in his political life, failures that would have defeated most people. But Churchill kept sticking his neck out, overcoming great odds and eventually leading his country in its finest hour.

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Failure Is Not the Same as Quitting

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I consider myself to be fairly successful in life. I’ve worked hard, been smart, and pushed when the going got tough. I know that success isn’t a straight road, and that along the way, there can be a lot of bumps and potholes. But I believe that pushing through is what leads to success.

Sure, I know that sometimes there are detours. But we need to keep going towards our destination rather than turning back or quitting. I believe that failing at something is merely a set-back, and that failing is not the same as quitting! You might be familiar with the quote by Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, who said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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Giving flowers? Know the messages they send.

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Here are a few to keep in mind. Whether you’re buying flowers to brighten a summer table or special night out, remember that flowers have special meanings. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Carnation: constancy, joy
Chrysanthemum: optimism, hope, happiness
Daisy: purity, loyalty, innocence
Freesia: trust
Gladiola: remembrance
Iris: faith, wisdom, promise
Larkspur: appreciation
Lily: devotion
Orchid: love, beauty
Rose (pink): sweetness
Rose (red): true love, desire
Rose (white): true love, purity
Rose (yellow): friendship
Snapdragon: virtue
Tulip: love at first sight

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