The other day, I told my nearly-two-year-old "Good Job." Simple, say it probably 5 times a day to him. No big deal, really. But then, I noticed his little face.
"Good Job" smeared satisfaction all across his chubby little cheeks. It made an impact. It made him feel important. It made him feel accomplished. And, in one moment, I was both proud and convicted.
Proud --because my little man was starting to feel self-worth and to have understanding of being praised for doing something correctly. This praise left him yearning for more and wanting to hear this phrase again. He craved that attention and the good feeling it imparted. He wanted to continue to "do a good job."
Convicted--because in that second, I came to understand that being happy about having yourself praised is one of those almost innately ingrained things and essential to our human-ness. I was convicted, because it exposed a deficiency in my life in giving that praise.
Obviously, wanting praise follows us into our adult lives. And I realize, I am HORRIBLE, absolutely deficient and failing in telling those around me a simple, "Good job."
Horrible at telling my husband, horrible at telling my kids, horrible at telling those who work with me, horrible at telling those who work for me.
I think medicine is especially sinister in this respect. We have a culture of finding fault and worrying about blame and pointing the finger and hoping it is the other guy who gets sued. Instead of saying "It's awesome you did this" it is often "Why didn't you think of that?" With my office, it is always finding somebody doing something wrong or leaving something out or not thinking or, or, or. There is always something to find....but I'm not searching for the right things.
It's no wonder I struggle with problems especially related to work. So much easier to criticize and to antagonize. For me, saying "Good job" at work requires thought. I have to force it. It isn't natural. Sometimes it hurts. It has to be brought forward from the depths of my unconscious, from the deep, dark recesses of my cortex. I have to grow it up and nurture it and let it crowd out the weeds of my pride before it bursts forth from my lips and bears fruit in my life. It isn't coming from my heart yet...but what my cortex can learn, maybe my heart will embrace.
So I look at my little boy, and I thank him. I am thankful for his big spirit, and his eyes that say exactly what he is thinking. I am thankful that he could shine a light on a part of my life I never would think that a two year old could reveal. But he did, and he did even better than a "Good job."