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on noticing others (fred smith)

Good post from, which sends out practical advice from that great Dallas businessman and motivator, Fred Smith (now deceased):

I regularly eat in restaurants before 6am.  It is always gratifying to find someone who is cheerful at that early hour.  It may be a waitress, hostess, or customer.  Yet I am ashamed to admit how rarely I tell the person how much it means to meet a friendly individual first thing in the morning.  Doubtless this person is making a genuine effort to do this.  Lately, I have made an effort to recognize this good trait.

I complimented the woman who poured my second cup of coffee at the cafeteria for doing it with great style.  As I spoke the words, she began glowing, knowing her skill had been acknowledged.

Bill Mead, former CEO of Campbell Taggart, had a unique sensitivity to extraordinary, though small, abilities of others.  Consequently, he was welcomed by all.  He showed me part of relationship excellence is growing in the recognition of superior qualities in others.  Superior is enough; genius isn’t necessary.

My good friend, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones makes a big deal out of saying “thank you for that smile.”  I often think when I am in Dallas traffic how far a smile goes when someone lets me change lanes.  I have noticed the habit of waving thanks has started to become common place ----I like that.  When we wave we let the other person know we know we didn’t get it done by ourselves….not a bad thing to recognize.

Once, a friend repeatedly thanked a grouchy news vendor who never returned the gratitude.  When the man was asked why he kept on thanking the vendor he said,
“I can’t let him control my manners.”

When we rationalize ingratitude by saying, “If others are not noticing the good I do, why should I notice the good they do?”  This is definitely not the attitude of excellence.  How much better it is for us start the good.

I challenge you to take one day and use each and every opportunity to recognize others…whether they return the thanks or not.  It will change you, I promise.

One quick word of caution:  be specific and be real avoiding the phoniness of flattery.  As a golfer there is nothing worse than playing with someone who insists on complimenting every shot, good or bad.  One of the most amusing and distasteful rounds I ever played was with a salesman who consistently complimented his prospect’s 122 shots after giving him everything within 20 feet of the cup.



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