The Power of Appreciation
I recently visited my mom and sisters. It’s about a four hour drive to where they live, so I stayed with them the whole weekend. One morning, as we were all gathered in the kitchen, still dressed in our jammies, drinking coffee and chatting, my mom pointed to the aloe plant in the kitchen window.
Mom – “Look…it hasn’t grown in the last six months. I don’t know what happened to it, maybe I overwatered it.”
Me – “Have you used it to treat any burns or cuts?”
Sister1 – “Nobody’s had any cuts to treat.”
Mom – “And we don’t cook around here, so no burns either.” (We all laugh at this, because none of us cook muchJ)
Sister2 – “That must be it then, mom. You’re not using it and it’s stopped growing.”
Me – “What do you mean?”
Sister2 – “Well, mom put it in the window so it gets light and people can see it, but nobody’s using it. It can’t compete with plants that provide food or that look pretty. Its strength is in healing. It’s not doing what it’s best at, so it just sits there, feeling left out, sad, and useless.”
Now, although my sisters and I have been called smart-alecks and wise-guys a time or two, we’re not generally known to spout profoundness or wisdom, especially that early in the morning. But my sister’s comment struck a chord for me.
Not that I think plants have feelings or anything, it was just a reminder of how powerful it is to feel appreciated for what we can contribute. Not what we should do, but what we can do….the former is someone else’s yardstick of “good”; the latter is ours.
Simple, genuine appreciation offered by others builds confidence, gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, and sustains us in stressful times. That conversation also reminded me of a quote I read not long ago by Ram Dass:
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees.
And some of them are bent,
And some of them are straight,
And some of them are evergreens,
And some of them are whatever.
And you look at the tree and you allow it.
You see why it is the way it is.
You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way.
And you don’t get all emotional about it.
You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that.
And you are constantly saying, “You’re too this, or I’m too this”.
That judging mind comes in.
And so I practice turning people into trees.
Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
As coaches, our job isn’t to judge what a person has to offer as good or bad. It isn’t to fix or change them. Our job is to appreciate them just the way they are, to support them as they learn and grow, encourage them, mirror what is, and help them be the best “them” they can be.
I’d love to hear your thoughts….did these examples speak to you? What did they say?