Conditioning Ourselves to Acknowledge the Good We See in the World

I hate going to the dentist.

Having someone get up in my mouth, and all that jazz is quite intimidating, but you do what you have to do.

While traveling through Minneapolis, I must have a bit too enthusiastically started eating yogurt with granola and somehow cracked a tooth. It was so bad that I knew it would have to be extracted. I was dreading the experience.

Because it was an emergency and I was only home on the weekend, I had to go to a new dentist. This was incredibly daunting.

After some needles in my mouth and an aggressive tooth pull, I was done an hour later.

Was it a good experience? Nope

But it wasn’t terrible, and I felt it could have been much worse.

As I left and shared that with the receptionist, she pointed to a sign on the counter in front of me that encouraged guests to go onto Google and review the dentist. I did just that a few days later and left a five-star review.

She had taught me to share the positive when it wasn’t natural to do so.

I am guessing that when things go wrong in many organizations, including schools, you hear about it. When things go right, not so much.

Educators can be guilty of this as well.

Exhibit A:





If things go wrong, we say something by default.

If things go right, we often say something with coaxing.

And part of the issue is the humility of so many teachers. They are there to help their students, and sharing the fabulous things happening in their classrooms feels like bragging.

To help many get over this feeling, what I have focused on over the years is emphasizing sharing my learning. I am not saying what I do is better or worse than anyone else; it is simply the experience I am having in hopes that it can help others somehow.

A video that helped shape this thinking I saw years ago is from Derek Sivers titled, “Obvious to You, Amazing to Others,” shared below:


This past weekend, I went to dinner with my family, and the server was beyond amazing—one of my best experiences. As we left the restaurant, I asked the front reception to be able to speak to the manager. She immediately said, “Is there anything I can help you with?” which I recognized as a vetting tactic. She wanted to get as much information before I spoke to the manager to diffuse any potential negative situations. I just said, “Nope! It is all good!”

She was nervous but went to grab the manager. The server then walked by, and he saw me and asked, “You are still here?”

I replied, “Yup! I am just waiting for the manager.”

I could see his stomach drop, and he just said. “Why??!?” I could see him go through our entire meal service in his mind and go through every possible negative interaction within seconds, to which I said, “It is all good! Trust me!”

The manager came out, and I shared that the service was terrific, from the welcome at the door to the service during the meal. I commended and complimented as many people as I had interacted with in the establishment. What bothered me (not about anyone) was the sense of relief everyone had from my comments. Not a sense of pride, but a feeling of getting from a negative ten to zero. Not a satisfaction in hearing something good, but a relief in not hearing something terrible.

That is a reflection of society.

Yet “reflections” are what we see when we look into the mirror at ourselves, not when we look at others.

I have committed to never having a compliment in my head for someone else to stay within my mind.

There is never a risk of sharing gratitude with someone too early; there is often a risk of sharing gratitude with someone too late.

The hope is that I am training myself not to “see” the good but to acknowledge it.

The reflection then becomes something I am proud to see.

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