I put a lot of time and energy into acknowledging people. At the end of every client call, my client’s know that I’m going to ask them what they’d like to be acknowledged for, and then spend some time acknowledging them for being exactly that.

The definition for acknowledgment is:

  1. The action of showing that one has noticed someone or something; and
  2. The action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something.

For me, acknowledging someone is an act of Love. The simple, verbal act of appreciating who and what they BE.

People tend to get a little whacky when you acknowledge them. If I recognize and acknowledge someone for their Brilliance, part of what’s predictable is that they will say something along the lines of “Well, I don’t know about Brilliance, I mean …”

And then insert whatever caveat you like at the end of that. Here are some of the ones I’ve heard:

“I’m just good at seeing other people’s Brilliance, and drawing that out of them…”
“I don’t know about that, I just spend a lot of time being really curious about things…”
“Well, that’s very kind of you, but this guy over here is really the brilliant one…” (Immediately shifting the conversation to someone else).

None of that’s wrong — it’s very human. What it is, is the person’s relationship to receiving Love showing up in the moment. Because the most basic, fundamental act of Love is to be seen truly and fully, exactly for who we are — and then accepted and appreciated for that.

Leaders will often tell me that while they’re terrible at receiving acknowledgment, they’re great at giving it. But this cannot be the case.

You can only fully give what you are able to fully receive. What these leaders model, and then create in their teams, organization and relationships is that the way to be about acknowledgment (and Love) is that you deflect any coming your way, and pour it all over everyone else.

That creates a culture that has people falling over themselves to acknowledge everyone but themselves. That’s a toxic culture — one where, on the surface, it looks like there’s an abundance of gratitude and appreciation, but none of it can actually get in.

Like watering a plant everyday, but the soil has become hydrophobic — too dry to be able to accept the water.

The plant slowly but surely withers and dies, despite an abundance of water.

So too will you, and your culture, when you lack the ability to be seen and acknowledged for who you are.

Who is there for you to acknowledge today? And from whom could you practice receiving some acknowledgment?