To one degree or another, everyone needs a feeling of importance; this feeling obtained largely from appreciation received. Beginning at infancy and continuing throughout our lives, we do many things to try to receive appreciation. As a child riding my first bicycle, I remember taking both hands off of the handle bars and shouting to friends, “look at me.” When I was very young, my teacher gave me gold stars when I did something she liked. Usually they were small gold foil shapes with sticky backs, but there were also some really big ones – three inches across – for extra-special accomplishments. Those stars made me feel special, important, and appreciated; and served to motivate me to higher achievements.
Adults also say “look at me” but usually in more sophisticated ways, mostly acceptable, such as wearing expensive or stylish clothing, bragging about their accomplishments or those of their family, being a physical or verbal bully, purchasing an eye catching car, selecting a trophy wife, emphasizing a title, and on and on and on and on. You can be polite to them by acknowledging these efforts. If you give people SINCERE compliments, they will be your friends because they know you appreciate something about them.
As adults, we are much more likely to receive criticism than appreciation. Our boss, our spouse, our Sifu, and the others in our lives expect much from us. When we fail to live up to their expectations, they criticize, but when we go beyond the call of duty, or better yet when we do something pleasantly unexpected, we are likely to get a “ho hum’’ response at best.
Appreciation is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to those around us (whether it is verbal or as physical as shiny gold stars, a gold watch, or a certificate). Giving and receiving honest and sincere appreciation is important to us all.
When an instructor does his job, we may think that it’s just to be expected, that thanks are not in order-- but they are. Can you remember the last time you showed your Sifu that you appreciated something that he did and told him so?
When you want to show appreciation to your instructor, you may hesitate because of fear of appearing you're kissing up to him, for fear he will think that you want a promotion, or maybe you have difficulty in communicating such a thing to a “superior.” You may think that you don’t need to show appreciation for him, but words of appreciation are in order, especially if he has done something he didn't have to do and it benefits you.
Within two days of his last yearly Jukensa Kajukenbo Grand Seminar, I received a very nice “thank you” letter from O-Sifu Sadoc Sierra for my participation ;-). I’m growing old, I’m not very exciting any more, and my Spanish is not at all good; but Mexico’s Kajukenbo black belts nevertheless occasionally invite me to their events, which I enjoy very much. The first person to receive black belt rank from me, now Grand Master Dr. Gerald Chavez, writes e-mail to me once or twice each week. It just feels good to be appreciated…. I appreciate these kindnesses very much, as well other expressions of appreciation which I receive.
Most instructors don’t normally show their appreciation to their students either. A common mistake that instructors make is to go out of their way to get a new student and forget to pay the same attention to existing students. It is many times easier to keep an existing student satisfied than to cultivate a new student relationship from scratch. There are many opportunities to thank a student for their membership in your organization, for a referral, for putting in a good word about you or your club, for writing printed articles about Kajukenbo, for assisting with classes, and so forth. It’s good to let students know when they hit the mark.
Then, there is what I call “orange squeezing” appreciation. This is the kind of appreciation that we all grow to expect since it is the kind we almost always receive.. People may say they really love oranges, but after squeezing all of the juice out—what do they do with that orange? They cast it aside. Appreciation can be “orange squeezing,” if one obtains all that they feel they can from someone, and no longer needing that someone, cast him aside or no longer show appreciation or thankfulness.
The opposite of thankfulness can be taking something for granted. It is as though we believe we will always be here, as though our chances to show our appreciation will never end. Why wait? When was the last time you offered someone sincere appreciation—a "thank you" or a gold star?
Most of the time we fail to express our appreciation to those people who make our lives better in small or even in large ways. Show your appreciation! In one way or another, why not give someone a “gold star” today?