I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that I’m not a TV watcher. However, I DO watch Blue Bloods episodes on my Kindle when I’m working out. Honestly…it’s the carrot to my stubborn mule self and the only thing that gets me on the treadmill. That being said…I’m a huge fan of this series (it may or may not have anything to do with Tom Selleck, I’m not saying).
For those of you not familiar, this is a family of NYC police officers and Tom plays the Dad, the current Police Commissioner. In this particular episode…there was a medal ceremony, where Frank (the Commissioner) was able to recognize his detective son with a medal of honor. It was a powerful moment. They, of course, had a conversation before where Frank told his son, “you know I’m proud of you – you don’t need a medal or a ceremony for that.”
“Of course, Dad.”
And we all know that’s true, right?
Or DO we?
Validation is a powerful thing, y’all.
We seek it. We strive for it. We call out for it from the time we are tots. After we cough or sneeze and our parents think it’s cute…we fake cough or sneeze to get them to validate us again.
We fall on our bottoms over and over while we’re learning to walk…the sting not hurting at all…not JUST because we’re wearing a mattress-sized diaper, but also because our people are clapping, laughing, smiling and watching us!
They. Validate. Us.
- We jump on the trampoline. “Mommy, watch this!”
- We dive into a pool. “Daddy, see what I can do!”
- We turn a cartwheel, blow bubbles with gum and even burp the alphabet — begging for praise, attention – the almighty powerful VALIDATION!
We work for those ‘we matter’ moments!
This doesn’t change or lessen as we get into our teens or young adulthood. If anything, it’s just harder for our parents or significant folks to detect because now it’s not cool to say ‘Mom – watch this and then clap!’ like we do when we’re younger.
Sometimes, maybe our grownups even turn to coach instead of cheerleader…telling us what we could have fixed or what we should do differently next time, instead of just loving on us, cheering for us, validating our work.
But validation doesn’t cease to be powerful and sometimes, comes from unexpected places.
When I was in high school, my junior English teacher, Mrs. Molly White, asked me to sing at her husband’s officer installation at the Masonic Lodge. This was a very important event in their life and she wanted to PAY me to sing. I was floored.
It took me years to realize why that was such a standout moment to me. But plain and simple, that invitation (and that check) validated my work, my music.
It was an ‘I matter’ moment!
Our local newspaper printed every article I wrote and submitted about our high school band, student council, choir and more. They validated my work with ink and a byline. This was a precursor to my having the confidence to write this, to write now. I’m still grateful for that validation.
I quickly learned that every stage and performance was an opportunity for instant validation through applause, smiles and crowd reaction.
My parents were not big ‘praisers’ — they supported me. They hauled me back and forth to practices. They were thankful I was a busy high school and college kid and not into trouble or slothfulness. I think they likely thought ‘well, it’s what she does…she knows we love and support her.’
But then — fast forward years later… my parents attend one of my live business events. My dad was going to listen to me speak from the stage for the first time ever.
Mom was used to my speaking. As my transcriptionist, she had been typing every recorded word that came out of my mouth for years. (Bless her heart).
It was a great two days. The crowd was lively and engaged. Our charity auction raised an incredible amount in a short period of time and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
The unmistakable sound of my dad clearing his throat…always the precursor to something important. Usually means he’s a little nervous.
He was holding a half sheet of torn paper that he’d been scribbling notes on…something I’ve seen him do thousands of times in my life. (His handwriting is unmistakeable and precious to me…teachers – please keep teaching cursive. But, I digress)…
He hugged me. Told me had a good time. Marveled at the charity auction and how magical that was.
Then showed me the notes he took…from MY speech.
“(Ahem) That was really good, Daughter. I liked it a lot. (He calls me that and I love it – I’m the only girl in the family
Your points were really great and it struck me how those work for evangelism too.”
He proceeded to show me this parallel and that. And again with the throat clear.
“Would it be okay with you if I used these points in my next sermon in a few weeks? I’ll let everyone know I stole the points from my daughter’s speech.”
At that moment…I knew what Frank’s son, the detective, felt like as his Dad, the Commissioner, both his father, his boss and also his mentor, pinned a medal of honor to his chest for good work, above and beyond the call of duty.
- I was proud.
- I was humbled.
- I was validated.
What validates you in your work or life?
- Words of praise?
- Payment for services?
- Comments on your blog?
- Shares of your Facebook feed?
- A publishing contract?
- A keynote fee?
I know validation can be important…I dare not dismiss it. BUT — let validation motivate you to do great work, even better work.
Let it PROPEL you!
Don’t just work FOR validation or let it determine ALL of your worth. That’s a dangerous place, leaping from one lily pad of validation to the next…threatening to sink if you don’t receive the validation you seek.
Don’t let lack of validation PARALYZE you.
It’s a fine line. I get it. I gave dozens of speeches before Dad affirmed me. I’ve given dozens since. And still… that moment with Dad, that moment with Ms. Molly White, the editor of my small town paper, many moments with YOU and with my kids…they matter.
Our work matters.
Hang in there.