“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams

Many successful people have to persevere through many challenges and setbacks.  A big part of their resilience is through encouragement or support from others.  And it can take only one person who they respect or look up to that can refuel their will.

Here is a story as an example. I recently read about a young man who lived in 19th century London working in a factory.  However,  he aspired to become a writer.

Everything seemed to be against his dreams. He was poor, had little formal education, and came from a broken family with his father in jail. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that after completing his first manuscript, he snuck out to mail this manuscript in the dead of the night so nobody would laugh at him.

Story after story what he wrote would be rejected. Finally, one day, an editor, replied in a letter to him that he wanted to publish his book.

The young man was so thrilled that right after he read this letter, he walked aimlessly around the streets of London, tears rolling down his cheeks.

It was that one praise, that recognition that he received in getting his first story in print, changed his whole life. For if it hadn’t been for that editor’s encouragement, he might have spent the rest of his life working in the rat-infested factories.


Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.

That young man would go on to be regarded as one of the greatest novelists in the English language. That young man was Charles Dickens. This can be the power of giving praise.

So when you see someone doing great work or putting in great effort doing something they love, give them praise.  Just make sure it’s honest and authentic, people are good at sniffing out phonies.

And no, the vast majority won’t become a Charles Dickens, Bill Gates, or Elon Musk.  But it would mean the world to them and fuel their passion for developing and perfecting their craft.  This is one fact that effective leaders understand as a fundamental ingredient in human flourishing and development.  If you don’t believe it, then do a self-experiment.  Give honest praise once a day for the next 30 days, and see if it brings any positive changes.  You may be pleasantly surprised at some of the results you may see.

I am a gynecologic oncologist, a husband, and a father. My blog is mostly about our healthcare system and well-being, but occasionally I get inspired to write about other "stuff" too.

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