Recognizing People

When Ronald Reagan was running for re-election to the Presidency of The United States he made a stop at a nursing home to chat with some of the residents. During a conversation with one gentleman in a wheelchair the President asked him if he knew who he was. The gentleman leaned forward in his wheelchair and gave Reagan a long look. Then while shaking his head he said “no, no I don’t know who you are but if you ask the nurse at the end of the hall I’m sure she’ll be able to tell you who you are.” 


I’m not certain that the story is true but I like it and it kind of fits with my post so I thought I’d share it. It only kind of fits with my post because this post is about recognizing people…just not that kind of recognition. 


This is a post about the importance of recognizing people for their efforts. The kind of recognition that Authentic Leaders regularly provide their people. 


I know the importance of recognizing another person’s efforts. The research shows that it is vital. People need to know what they do matters almost as much as they need air and water. 


And yet I struggle in this area. 


I struggle with this because I, like most people, fall into the trap known as the Tyranny of the Urgent. 


I do things that seem urgent to me rather than doing the things that are truly important. A very wise person once told me to never underestimate the absolute unimportance of nearly everything I do. Most of the stuff we do everyday won’t matter in 1 year, 5 years, or at the end of our years. Yet we do many of those things at the expense of the things that will matter.


Showing another person that they matter by giving them honest and sincere recognition is one of the most important and lasting things you can ever do. 


It doesn’t take much effort to find valid reasons for recognizing someone if you’re interested in trying. You’ll also quickly discover that recognition builds morale and improves attitudes. If you want to make an even bigger impact on someone then don’t just say it, write it on a note card and give it to them. Most people will look at it multiple times and even show it to family and friends. 


While it doesn’t take much effort to find reasons for recognizing someone it does require tons of discipline to do it consistently. Make the effort, it’s one of the nicest things you can do… for yourself.


In his 1936 book entitled “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie said to “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” 

It was outstanding advice then and its outstanding advice today

4 thoughts on “Recognizing People

  1. I found you via a Frank Sonnenberg Facebook post today. He shared your blog post on giving recognition. I love this article! Unfortunately many people leave this type of thing to the boss. I’ve been the receptionist at my company for just over 5 years and try to do this every day. I keep a box of nice stationery at my desk for this very reason. t’s not only the boss who is the leader. Kindness and thoughtfulness go a long way at work, at home… everywhere!

    1. Thanks Hazel! You are 100% correct, everyone can and should recognize their peers and colleagues. My Grandfather used to say regarding a nice note to someone that “they cost so little yet mean so much.” It’s never a mistake to be kind, you likely don’t know the positive impact you’re having on others but I’d be willing to bet you’ve made many people feel very special.

  2. Hi Mr. Keating-
    Just wanted to share my email with you regarding our exchange a few weeks ago about possibly speaking to the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents.

    Thank you.
    John Ekstrom

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