Last week I was speaking to a lovely group in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. I was telling them about my niece’s first gym competition. At the time she was 9 and I was (and still am) a very doting and enthusiastic Aunt! In between exercises (which I must say were not that exciting and seemed to me to consist of them just standing on the balance beam and holding onto the parallel bars and letting go) she would sit on the floor with her ‘best’ friend. I had cheered silently – but very visibly – every time she did anything as I was so proud and thought that the recognition would secretly be loved. Well, after a little while of me doing the thumbs up and smiling enthusiastically and mouthing ‘excellent!’, she turned to her little friend and whispered “she’s not my Mum – she’s only my Aunt!” Unfortunately for her I thought it was very funny!! And it only made me do it more! I knew that at some level the encouragement was worth it! Today she is 15; I am blessed that she still speaks to me! In fact, she feels very secure knowing how much I love her. So I figure a little embarrassment is worth it!
When I had finished telling my story, Roger came up to me after the break and said he would like to share a story about his then 4-year old nephew. Apparently, Roger was staying with his brother who had a 4-year old son. It was the son’s first gym competition as well and he invited his uncle to come watch him. When Roger asked what he would be doing, the little 4-year old said, “TA-DA’s!” Interested to see what a TA-DA was, Roger went along and saw his little nephew do the first exercise. It was walking along a balance beam that was about 3 inches from the ground. At the end of this heroic exercise, the little fella jumped off the balance beam, threw his hands up in the air and shouted, “TA-DA!” At which point everyone madly clapped and cheered!
Think of how many times you have seen toddlers and little children do a ‘TA-DA.’ And think of how enthusiastically we encourage them at the time. Sadly, the TA-DA’s are not rewarded as we grow older – it’s not considered appropriate for grown-ups to ‘TA-DA!’ What a pity! We have to wait for other people to notice we did something and hopefully they will recognize us in some way. Teens would be the last people on earth to TA-DA – but they may be the people on earth who most need recognition and encouragement.
Consider the word encourage, it stands for EN – courage – that is, to put courage into someone else. That’s what acknowledging a ‘TA-DA!’ does. That’s what acknowledging a silent ‘TA-DA!’ does.
Whenever you see anyone doing something that as a little child they may have finished with a ‘TA-DA!’, enthusiastically show them you noticed! If your mother just fixed something on the computer that scares her to pieces, if your teenager did something kind or hugged you, if your partner does something to make you feel special, if your children accomplish anything that they have worked hard to achieve, if a workmate does something worthwhile – encourage them. In fact, LOOK, ACTIVELY look for opportunities to see people doing something that would as a child have been followed with a “TA-DA!” – at work AND at home. And then acknowledge them. Discuss the idea of “TA-DA’s” around your dinner table tonight and why not as a family – allow and foster “TA-DA‘s!” If someone has done something positive – you could say – I think that deserves a “TA-DA!” And make it OK to have family “TA-DA’s” no matter how old you are! You can make it a joke – but it will bring wonderful energy, courage and self-confidence into you, your children’s and your work-mate’s lives. I love it! And you can make the “TA-DA’s!” very fancy! You can jump up and throw your hands in the air and feet out wide and shout proudly, “TA-DA!”
Just make sure that whoever is around does a positive reinforcement – if you do a TA-DA and someone goes ‘well, durrrrrr, what’s the big deal!’ then a TA-DA loses it’s magic! That’s what they are – magic. A magical way to have fun in your family – or at work – and a conscious reminder to encourage and acknowledge others. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to go out today and every day and en-courage someone else!
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