The way-to-gos, compliments and attas don’t come along very often. Hold on when they do.

Yesterday one of my clients gave me killer kudos.

It was like the sun peaking over the horizon after a black, moonless night. Or a sunbeam breaking through the clouds after a long downpour. Or seeing that face people make when they taste something for the first time that makes their knees weak, and you baked it.

I don’t know about you, but getting kudos makes me feel kinda warm. My body relaxes and I tension flows from my fingertips. Or it can feel like the overwhelming blast of exhilaration after hitting a half-court shot with time ticking to quadruple zeros… FOR THE WIN!

That happened to me once, more than 40 years ago. It was sheer luck, the wrong guy in the right place at the critical time; the ball wasn’t even supposed to come to me. The three-point field goal was still a few years off, so two it was. But that didn’t make it any less freakin’ awesome.

I digress, but the departure isn’t entirely beside the point. 

See, here I am, more than four decades after the fact, still feeling the undiluted joy of hitting that shot, my teammates mauling me, piling on. It was glorious. More than that, it was a kudo moment. It was a victory to be savored and held onto forever.

And yesterday, before going over a piece of writing I’d done for his company, my client casually said, “Martin, you have a really nice, readable writing style.” Then he asked if I would ever consider teaching someone (presumably him) how to write like that.

I’d be a lousy writing teacher, but I’ll take the compliment.

Praise like that doesn’t come along every project. Nor every day or even every year.

So when it does for you, hang on to it forever.

Literally.

Whenever I get a verbal compliment like that, I write it down as soon as I can and save it into the electronic file I created for just that purpose. I call it my “Kudos” file. It complements a paper folder filled with written thank-you notes and printed emails of pats on the back, way-to-gos and atta-boys I’ve received over the years, going all the way back to my very first professional job.

Why?

Because the old adage is true – people almost never say a word when you’ve done a good job, but do something they don’t like or make a mistake and you’ll hear about it all day long. All month, probably.

But then… 

Every now and again someone puts the exception to the axiom. 

I hold all the kudos close, but here are the three best I’ve ever received:

“You have the most integrity of anyone I’ve ever met.”

That was from the executive admin at my first advertising agency gig. I have no recollection of the context or what prompted them, but I’ll never forget those words. They come to mind any time I have a moral or ethical dilemma or decision to make. They’ve made me a more honest, dependable and overall better person ever since.

“Martin isn’t just a writer. His words sing.”

That one came from a graphic designer I’d worked with on several projects. I was putting together my first freelance website and asked several collaborators and clients to provide quotes. I didn’t expect anything as generous as that. And, once again, I’ve tried to live up to those words ever since with every project.

“Your Dad is the nicest man I’ve ever met.”

My teenage daughter told me one of her friends said that to her a few weeks ago. I have no idea what I did or didn’t do to deserve it. All I know is it felt really good. Truth is there are a whole lot of people out there who most definitely would not agree. Even some who would disagree strenuously. But that’s OK. At least one person thinks so.

It reminds me of something a close friend told me in college – “In the end the only thing that matters is they say you were a good guy.”

Kudos are sweetest when they come unsolicited, but take them whenever, wherever and however you can. And keep ’em.

Why?

Because – look – we’re good. We deserve to be told so more often. And since the accolades, attas, compliments, pats on the back, way-to-gos and other kinds of kudos don’t come our way as often as they should, it’s important to treasure them when they do.

Later, too.

Go back into those Kudos files and folders and check out what’s in there. Do it whenever you’re having a tough time, you’re not feeling as confident as usual or you just want that FOR THE WIN! sensation again for a minute or two.

See? We are good. 

Feel it. 

Delight in it.

Smile.

So, what’s the best kudo you’ve ever received? Please share. Hearing about good mojo brightening someone else’s day makes me smile, too – Use the comment box at the bottom of this page, send an email to iv.words.blog@gmail.com or use the comment form.

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