“Nice job!” “I like what you said.” “That was really entertaining.” “You’re really good at that.” Compliments are great. They can help motivate us as we move toward our goals, but they can also be stumbling blocks if we let them.
Picture a runner who has a goal of running a 4 minute mile. He trains every day, pushing himself a little bit further every time he goes for a run. He consistently wins every race, but that’s not his goal. His goal is the 4 minute mile. After one particularly great race, in which he sets a personal best of 4:10, and the fans go crazy: “That was amazing!” His coach adds “Best running I’ve ever seen.” Even his parents chime in: “We’re so proud of you! Way to go!” At this point, the runner can react in two ways:
I did it.
I’m doing it.
It’s especially easy for people engaged in creative pursuits to settle for the “I did it” when we receive compliments. Even in writing this little blog, I’m tempted to relax and take my eyes of the goal when people tell me “I like your blog,” or “That post described exactly how I feel, too,” or “You’re a great writer.” Picture me with hands behind my head, elbows out, leaning back in a leather executive chair with a stupid-wide grin plastered on my face. (Deep sigh) . . . “Yep, I’ve arrived. My complimenters speak the truth.”
But we must press on, or the little milestones mean nothing. The Sirens’ complimentary song is beautiful and tempting, providing temporary comfort, but it is death to our goals. Instead, we must take the compliments in stride, and keep at it until we’ve reached our destination. And once we’ve done so, then we must set new goals or risk stagnation.
How about you? What do you do with compliments? Are you able to use them to motivate you toward your goals, or have they become a stumbling block to you?