If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap
than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten
pathway to his door.
Recently my wife and I sat charmed at an outdoor performance by young Suzuki violin
students. After the concert, an instructor spoke briefly on how children as young as two,
three and four years old are taught to play violin. The first thing the children learn, he
said, is a proper stance. And the second thing the children learn--even before they pick
up the violin--is how to take a bow. "If the children just play the violin and stop,
people may forget to show their appreciation," the instructor said. "But when
the children bow, the audience invariably applauds. And applause is the best motivator
we've found to make children feel good about performing and want to do it well."
Adults love applause too. Being affirmed makes us feel wonderful. If you want to rekindle
or keep the flame of love glowing in your marriage through the years, try showing and
expressing your appreciation for your mate. Put some applause in your marriage and watch
Dr. Ernest Mellor, in Homemade, November 1984.
A group of elderly, cultured gentlemen met often to exchange wisdom and drink tea. Each
host tried to find the finest and most costly varieties, to create exotic blends that
would arouse the admiration of his guests. When the most venerable and respected of the
group entertained, he served his tea with unprecedented ceremony, measuring the leaves
from a golden box. The assembled epicures praised this exquisite tea. The host smiled and
said, "The tea you have found so delightful is the same tea our peasants drink. I
hope it will be a reminder to all that the good things in life are not necessarily the
rarest or the most costly.
Morris Mandel in Jewish Press.
In his autobiography, Breaking Barriers, syndicated columnist Carl Rowan tells about a
teacher who greatly influenced his life. Rowan relates: Miss Thompson reached into her
desk drawer and pulled out a piece of paper containing a quote attributed to Chicago
architect Daniel Burnham. I listened intently as she read: "Make no little plans;
they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make
big plans, aim high in hope and work. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do
things that would stagger us."
More than 30 years later, I gave a speech in which I said that Frances Thompson had
given me a desperately needed belief in myself. A newspaper printed the story, and someone
mailed the clipping to my beloved teacher. She wrote me: "You have no idea what that
newspaper story meant to me. For years, I endured my brother's arguments that I had wasted
my life. That I should have married and had a family. When I read that you gave me credit
for helping to launch a marvelous career, I put the clipping in front of my brother. After
he'd read it, I said, 'You see, I didn't really waste my life, did I?'"
Carl Rowan, Breaking Barriers, Little, Brown,
Quoted in Reader's Digest, January 1992.
Napoleon's genius had been attributed to many things, but, above all, he was a superb
natural leader of men. Like any wise leader he was aware that his own success would have
been nothing had his men not been willing, even eager, to follow him. Obviously he could
not know and personally inspire every man in his vast army, therefore he devised a simple
technique for circumventing this difficulty. Before visiting a regiment he would call the
colonel aside and ask for the name of a soldier who had served well in previous campaigns,
but who had not been given the credit he deserved. The colonel would indicate such a man.
Napoleon would then learn everything about him, where he was born, the names of his
family, his exploits in battle, etc. Later, upon passing this man while reviewing the
troops, and at a signal from the colonel, Napoleon would stop, single out the man, greet
him warmly, ask about his family, compliment him on his bravery and loyalty, reminisce
about old campaigns, then pin a medal on the grateful soldier. The gesture worked. After
the review, the other soldiers would remark, "You see, he knows us--he remembers. He
knows our families. He knows we have served."
Bits & Pieces, October 17, 1991.
Carlyle had a very devoted wife who sacrificed everything for his sake, but he never
gave her a single expression of appreciation for which her heart yearned. She came to
regard herself as the most miserable woman in London and evidently died of heart hunger.
After her death, Carlyle, reading her diary, realized the truth. A friend found him at her
grave suffering intense remorse and exclaiming, "If I had only known!" Now is
the time to tell.
Dr. Charles F. Asked, Homemade, Vol. 11, No. 7.
It may be that praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value to its scarcity, as
Samuel Johnson said, but most of us would prefer to err on the side of giving too much
praise than too little. One who would agree was the wife of an old Vermonter named
Eb was, like many of his breed, rather stingy with words. He said very little, and then
rather grudgingly. One evening he was sitting on the front steps with his wife. The long
day's work, the good supper, and the peaceful sights and sounds of dusk must have softened
him up. He took his pipe out of his mouth and said, "When I think of what you've
meant to me all these years, Judith, sometimes it's almost more than I can stand not to
Bits & Pieces, October, 1989, p. 8.
Boss to retiring employee: "This company can't afford a gold watch, Homer. But
here's a phone number that gives the correct time."