Years ago I heard a story of a dad named Paul who gave his young son a small chalkboard to practice writing on. One evening his son called out from the bedroom, "Dad, how do you spell best?"
Paul answered him. Moments later, the boy hollered, "How do you spell kid?"
Finally he asked, "How do you spell ever?"
When the boy showed him what he'd written on the chalkboard, Paul expected to see "I'm the best kid ever." Instead, the boy beamed as Paul read the message: "You're the best dad a kid can ever have."
Paul recalled that it was one of the best days of his life. In fact, he had to buy his son another chalkboard because he wanted to save this message forever and hang it on his wall. It's still there.
Feeling appreciated is enormously important to adults as well as children. So much so that we often don't think enough about what we'd most like to be appreciated for.
Being appreciated at work is a big deal. Who doesn't want approval and respect from one's boss and coworkers? Beyond the economic value of raises, promotions, and commendations, praise can be gratifying and motivating. That's why good employers look for opportunities to acknowledge and thank employees for their contributions.
Yet as meaningful as work recognition is, if you could choose between winning your child's "Best Mom/Dad A Kid Can Ever Have" award and being named "Best Employee," which would you choose?
The point is not to belittle the pursuit of approval in your business life but to remind you how much more meaningful it is to know you're important to and appreciated by the people who love and need you the most. Your most important job in life is to be worthy of that appreciation.
Being the "best ever" mom or dad, husband or wife, or friend - it doesn't get any better than that.