The Power Of Positive Feedback

I have a lot of stories on this subject, and there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest to me. It's the story of how I became a songwriter.

In 1983, I was sales manager at a car dealership. My wife turned 30 that year and I decided to write her a song. I had written one song prior to that in 1969 and it was not very good, but I was determined to do this and have a band play it and sing it on her birthday. So I did it and it was a hit with her. After that, I was jazzed about writing songs and decided that after that I could write some more, so I began writing and bought a recorder and started recording my songs myself.

The finance manager played guitar and so I shared one or two of my efforts with him. He listened intently and gave me nothing but positive feedback. I was enamored with that and couldn't wait to get home and do some more. On my days off, I did 5 or 6 and would bring them in for critique. He just kept egging me on with praise. I listened to some of these tapes years later and they were pretty crude, but his praise seemed so sincere, he took time and listened with interest and he pointed out the things he liked best and of course, I did more of that too. I got better each time.

He gave me such confidence for the next few months that I decided to take the best ones and go to a real recording studio and record them. I went and had four songs recorded and used professional musicians and came back with a vastly improved tape, which led to doing a whole album, which led to writing about 150 songs and doing a serious amount of recording, which led me to singing and writing songs for the church and playing in a church band and much more. It was an awesome experience.

And I know absolutely who to thank for it. It was that positive feedback; that encouragement when I was incredibly vulnerable. It could just as easily gone the other way. I thank him all the time for the opportunity to have experienced so much around music and writing songs. It would not have happened had he responded differently, I'm sure of it.

The lesson this event taught me is to be an uplifter. It changed how I managed my sales people and how I responded to others. It even changed how I interacted with customers. It opened my mind to be an encourager and to find ways to give positive feedback whenever I can. I don't remember it everyday, but I'm not very far from it. I'm also reminded just how powerful an influence positive feedback can be--not just for the moment, but it can last for many years into the future.

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