A couple of years ago, when my son was 11, he stood for an hour on a San Francisco street, as hundreds of people rushed past after work.
He held up a sign to each person who passed, no matter how they dressed or walked or looked.
The sign simply said:
You are awesome. Just the way you are.
Some people hurried by and didn’t see the sign. But the people who did… wow. They instantly burst into a smile.
One moment they looked distracted and stressed while grinding on a mental hamster wheel, and the next moment they were lit up with a firework of happiness.
Unfortunately, too often, we’re given a very different type of message. Insecurities are a strong motivator.
We’re told why we need to fix ourselves...
- “You will be awesome… after you buy this product.”
- “You will be awesome... after you whiten your teeth.”
- "You will be awesome... if you take my investment advice.”
At work, we hear a variation of this...
"You will be awesome in your job, once you fix those weaknesses of yours."
In school, many kids are given a similar message:
“You will be awesome... when you get better grades / score in the game / fit into the crowd.”
But imagine if our kids heard a different message: "You are awesome. Just the way you are."
This is a different message, a strange and unfamiliar one for many people. We’re so accustomed to hearing that we need to change in order to improve. Yet what if, in fact, the opposite is true?
What if who you are is exactly right?
You don’t have to fix yourself.
Just do more of what you’re already doing right.
You don’t have to CHANGE who you are.
Just be MORE of who you already are, at your best.
(Let that sink in. Doesn’t that feel incredible? You can stop struggling to change.)
Optimism is a stronger motivator than insecurity.
When I originally shared this story in 2015, someone posted a (very) negative comment under the fake name “Reality Check.” The comment said this was “BS” because “we are all “broken.”
In this short video, Asher reads his personal reply to the comment.
Where can you add this optimism in your life? Who needs it most? How can you give it this immediate spark?
If an 11-year-old can change the world on a distracted and crowded street, maybe you could change a little corner of your world, too.
Your tiniest actions can have a ripple effect. That ripple can grow to make a difference in your office, your family, and your world. Even the biggest movements start with one person.
You don’t have to stand on a busy street, holding a handmade sign like Asher did. But... maybe you could.
- What if you tried it for 10 minutes, during your lunch hour?
- What if you taped an anonymous handwritten sign to your office wall?
- Or stuck a little note in your child’s lunchbox for them to discover tomorrow?
- What if you said it loud to someone who’s feeling discouraged or nervous?
Optimism doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be authentic.
Give one person the experience of feeling awesome. But here’s the really important part — you can’t leave off the second half of the message:
You are awesome… just the way you are.
If you want to create an emotional connection, you don’t need an expensive marketing campaign or fancy engagement program.
Just tell one person. It can be a co-worker, or a client, or a customer, or a family member. It can even be a stranger.
Here are three ways to start your own ripple effect of optimism:
- In your marketing, tell customers why they’re ALREADY great, just the way they are, whether they buy your product or not. You will build a more positive emotional connection.
- In your office, show employees how to do more of what they’re already doing right. You’ll inspire a culture of optimism.
- Soak in your own uniquely extraordinary and fascinating qualities. (If you don’t already know, I’ll show you right here). When you feel good about who YOU are, you are more likely to help others see the best of themselves.
Here’s my question for you:
Who are YOU going to tell that they are awesome, just the way they are?
Share this message with someone who needs a burst of optimism.
As for me, I’m going to tell my son, Asher... “My love, you are awesome just the way you are.”
SHARE YOUR IDEAS AND STORIES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW:
WHO WILL YOU TELL TODAY?
SHARE THIS STORY:
Read this quick story for a ridiculously inspiring boost (Tweet this)
I love this little way to make a very BIG difference (Tweet this)
Find out this one small way to make a big difference in the world today (Tweet this)
You do not have to fix yourself. Be MORE of yourself (Tweet this)
Optimism is stronger than insecurity. Here’s why (Tweet this)
How to give someone an instant smile (Tweet this)
Aww, what a touching story. Good on your son for having the courage to get out there with his sign.
A lot of my retirement planning clients spend their time helping in the community - retirees tend to do a lot of that. I'll make a point of telling them how awesome they are for doing that and being community minded.
"Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars, always makes me smile. Sally, your son has taken it to a new level. Thank you for sharing this wonderful action; we can all improve ourselves and the lives of the people around us by simple acts, such as this one.
I work for a company that supports phone companies. This means nothing other than I get to touch a lot of lives when I move from office to office, with a semi-permanent location at each site. I plan on having a poster board at each, with a new - positive statement each quarter. Your son's "You are Awesome, just the way you are," will be first up.
Give him a hug from me. Regardless of whether you suggested it or he did it on his own, the fact is, he did it. Thanks to him for making the world a better place.
Your email made me smile... and brightened my day. I add a positive note each day to my daughters lunch box because I've done that since she was little. She's a freshman in High School and finding it a little intimidating, trying to find her way. Today, I got a text from her at lunch saying "thanks mom for loving me enough to put a note in my lunch everyday, I used to hid them. Not this year, I'm put them on the table while eating." Reading your message today is so true, it's the little things that make a difference for all of us, it's finding the 1 or 5 little things that boost your day and get you through. I love the "You don't have to fix yourself. Be MORE of yourself." I normally make my own notes for Shelbie's lunch but am going to steal that one for tomorrow. Thank you for being so positive and sharing, we all need a positive hug.
sally, thank you ... your stone of intention is skipping far and opening wide!
The beautiful ways that you tell people they are great, stay with them.. and sometimes we get to hear what the comment, time spent or listening & valuing them, changed the way they value themselves.
Then the gifts come back to you.
We don't fight to change because we are all changing anyway, whether we recognise it or not.
What's more important is to lead the changes for the better, bit by bit by what we offer and do for others. There are no ways too small that we can't make a big difference.
That is made possible by our presence of being present, whoever we are with. That itself is the greatest gift we can offer to someone else, especially in this age where people are highly distracted. We are in many ways yearning for that attention through social media engagements - to make ourselves being heard and seen.
Hence, I practice by just acknowledging others and being interested. It is only when you are interested, then you can be interesting.
I see all of you, your beautiful souls.