The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Here’s the story:

Have you ever done that exercise that goes something like this: Ask ten people that know you to describe you in three words.

Upon the direction of my writing mentor Jeff Goins, I tried it and was amazed at the results.

One of the pleasant surprises about the experiment was that people saw me as an encourager.

My own struggle with negativity and cynicism lent itself to a self-doubt that clouded my eyes from seeing that I truly am a positive and encouraging person at heart.

In other words, it did so much for my psyche that someone to pointed out something positive in my life. Especially when it was something that I couldn’t see myself.

Here’s where the story gets good…
Later that night I took to Facebook Live and shared the results of the experiment.

Only I took it one step further.  

As people began to log onto the video feed I flipped the script and began to describe them in three words.

For example, a guy that I used to youth pastor, Dirty Bird, logged on and I said something like:

The three words that come to mind when I think of Dirty Bird are hilarious, independent, strong willed.”  (I could write an entire book on that guy!)

I did this for a few people and eventually got to my co-worker Allie.

What do you See in People You Pass Every Day?

Allie and I both teach English in rooms next door to each other. We’ve been knowing one another for about a year.

Allie and I are not BFF’s but I do know her well enough to have said this: (paraphrase

When I think of Allie I think of someone that is hardworking, lighthearted and a sincerely wants to do good in the world”

I know I violated the three-word-rule but the meaning wasn’t lost on Allie as I found out the next day at school.

Sometimes you Need to Hear it from Someone Else
As we were on the way to lunch Allie told me the following story.

She said:

I had been considering becoming a court appointed child advocate but was very conflicted about it. I wondered things like:

  • Do I have the time?
  • Can I handle something this big?


My husband and I had been discussing this when you began to describe me on Facebook Live.

When you said I was hardworking and a world-changer it gave me the confidence that I needed to take the leap. So yeah, I’m going to become a child advocate.

You made my day

“Sometimes all it takes to make a difficult decision is an affirming voice telling you what you know to be true but still need to hear.” (Jeff Goins, The Art of Work)

Allie already knew she had what it took. She just needed to hear from someone else.

When You Make the Day for One, You Make the Day for Many
I’m glad I made Allie’s day. I really am. But you know what’s really amazing?

I made some vulnerable child’s day.  

Because, as a child advocate, I know Allie is going to do a great job of taking care of someone who is too weak to take care of themselves.

And to think, all I did was point out the good in someone that I see every day. You can do that, can’t you?

Try it. Go on and make someone’s day.  

Who knows, an innocent child may depend on it.  

Join the Conversation:
How has someone made your day before by pointing out the good in you?

What action did it cause you to take?

Is there someone whose day you need to make? What’s stopping you?

What might happen if you did?

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In the meantime, be encouraged, my friends.

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