Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Chalkboard

When his son was just learning to write, Paul gave him a small chalkboard so they could write notes to each other. One evening while Paul was in the living room, his son called out from the bedroom, "How do you spell 'best'?"

A few minutes after Paul answered, his son yelled again: "How do you spell 'kid'?" Paul responded.

And then, for a third time, his son asked, "How do you spell 'ever'?"

When Paul went into the child's room to view the board, he expected to see a note saying, "I am the best kid ever." But he was totally surprised when his son presented him with a different message: "You are the best dad a kid can ever have."

Paul told his son he would have to buy him another chalkboard. He wanted to save this one. Many years later, it still hangs on his wall.

Most people struggle hard for approval at work with the hope of getting acknowledgment, a raise or a promotion. These forms of recognition can give real pleasure. Yet if you could choose between winning your child's "Best Dad a Kid Can Ever Have" award and being named the best employee, which would you choose?

The point is not to belittle the pursuit of recognition and success in your work life. It's to remind you how much closer, more personally meaningful and easier it is to find an enduring sense of pride and pleasure in the earned appreciation of your own children.

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