I read of a math teacher who one day had her students list the names of all the other students in their class and then add a line about the nicest thing they could think about each one. Later, she compiled everything and handed the list to each student so they could see what everyone had said about them.

When class resumed the next day, everyone was as happy as a clam and treasured what they had received. The rest of the school year they said nothing about the lists.

Years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his body was brought back to the United States. The teacher attended the funeral. A soldier who was serving as a pallbearer asked, “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” she said yes. The soldier responded, “Mark had talked a lot about you.”

At the luncheon that followed the funeral, Mark’s mother and father come over to speak with the math teacher. The father said he wanted to show the teacher something. He pulled out a piece of paper. Yes, it was the list of what his fellow students had written about him that day a long time ago. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”

The mother chimed in with, “Thank you so much for doing that. As you can see, Mark treasured it a lot.” As the teacher spoke with the parents, several other students in Mark’s class remarked that they had also saved the list of comments.

One mentioned that the list was in the top drawer of her desk at home. Others kept their list in a wedding album, in a diary, or in their purse. One spoke up saying, “I think we all saved our lists.”

Oh, the power of affirmation.

There is great book on affirmation under “Book Notes” on my blog called, “Practicing Affirmation.” It is the only book that I know of totally devoted to this subject and it is extremely gospel centered and practical.

I have never in my life met someone who felt they were encouraged too much. Most leaders I know are super busy and slammed most of the time. The thought seldom crosses their minds to express thanks, encouragement and praise toward people in their employ, or on their team. People are starved to know that what they do matters and is important to their bosses and the team.

Investment banker Charles Schwab commented, “I have yet to find a man, however exalted in his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism. “

A pat on the back goes a lot further than a kick in the pants. Unfortunately, unhealthy leaders use fear and criticism as a motivational tool, oblivious to the damage it causes to morale and the well being of those on the receiving end. Fear and general negativity can become a part of an organization’s culture; better to create cultures of joy, safety, and affirmation.

Who needs some encourgement from you TODAY! Don’t wait any longer.