A Very Nice Thing

I received a comment yesterday that really resonated with me. Before I tell you what it was, I want to talk about why it meant a lot to me.

I look around me, and every day I see people being absolutely amazing at their thing. Their job, or hobby, or passion – I just see people crushing it, and I love it. I always make sure to say so any time I can. I like telling people that I was impressed by their accomplishments.

Likewise, I enjoy a good compliment on my own successes. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always take them well; I find myself defaulting to comments about how it could have been better or how I’ll improve the next iteration. I always make sure to express sincere gratitude, though – such comments really do mean a lot.

This comment I received, however, was very different. It made me realize that there’s a kind of compliment worth giving that I don’t give enough.

The comment I received was (paraphrased slightly): “I see how hard you’re working on this particular flaw you have, and I respect and support you for it.”

I hadn’t accomplished anything; hadn’t reached any milestone or success. I was struggling. But this person took the time to tell me that my struggle was appreciated and the work I was doing, even before reaching my goal, was worthwhile.

I don’t do that enough; I think most people don’t, in fact. We compliment the visible success, and not the (often) invisible work to get there. The comment wasn’t just encouragement – she didn’t say “I know you’ll get there if you keep at it!” Encouragement is valuable too, but she went beyond that and actually told me that the struggle itself, right now, had merit.

That’s extremely important. Some things you never fully “succeed” at. You just keep pushing, keep improving, keep struggling. It’s easy to get discouraged, and to think you’re doing nothing but treading water and that you’re stuck with your flaws forever.

Taking a moment to tell someone that you see them improving can mean the world, then. I’ll endeavor to do it more, and I appreciate so, so much that it was said to me.

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