Nothing is Extraordinary

Understanding the impact of the simplest actions is often a perplexing task.

When someone shows appreciation, what’s your first thought? Most people blurt out “Oh, it was nothing” with a sheepish grin and attempt to duck out of the sunshine gratitude brings.

For some reason, a lot of us feel embarrassed by a compliment.

Over the last several days, as I’ve been blessed with cards and e-mails expressing my students’ thoughts on my contribution to their education, I realized the gap between “business as usual” and “above and beyond” is a matter of perception.

The statement seems obvious, as we all make subjective judgments on the quality of everything we come across reflexively, yet acknowledging why is a key step in accepting–if not building–your own worth. The underlying truth is this:

We assume our valuation of our deeds is matched by everyone else.

Have you ever recommended a restaurant to a friend and been shocked when they called to express disgust? Do you chalk it up as a difference of opinion and move on? What makes the situation so different when you receive a compliment?

Everybody is able to do something others aren’t, what one individual considers normal–because they do it all the time–is miraculous to someone else. As when insulting your favorite diner, they can’t help but tell you, even if you believe the opposite is true.

Accepting praise with grace is the mark of security.

Giving people the opportunity to share their heartfelt feelings–and receiving them with friendly humility–is a sign of confidence. To discount a notion based solely on the fact it testifies to your excellence is cowardice.

Though you may be uncertain about the value of your work, others are not.

Be willing to listen to whatever superlatives are thrown your way.

Be thankful someone places such importance on the “little things” you’ve done.

Be happy your nothing is extraordinary to someone.

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