As published originally in Addicted 2 Success
Using praise as recognition isn’t a new concept. Look back to when you were in primary school and the number of gold star stickers for doing a good job on your homework. The childhood conditioning to expect positive reinforcement and for some, depended on it for success. Being constantly praised can be addictive. The danger in the love of being praised enables people to become conditioned to act a certain way to seek incentives. You become engrossed in seekingextrinsic motivation– the dangling carrot – to deliver results.
You crave others “liking” your thoughts, photos and accomplishments. You experience an adrenaline rush to your brain, as you are fed praise you so desperately crave. It makes you feel a false sense of being more loved, connected than you are. People who attribute their results to environment or circumstances are viewed as having an external locus of control. You tend to believe you have little power or influence in your successes or failures.
People who view outcomes as being influenced by their own choices and action have an internal locus of control. You take responsibility for whatever happens and are more resilient in the face of ongoing change. You do anything for the simple satisfaction of accomplishment. You are driven by an internal desire to create value even when not asked of you.
Getting too much positive reinforcement can be crippling if constant praise is necessary to perform well. Let me share with you 10 ways to overcome an unhealthy pursuit of praise:
1. Be your own inspiration
Instead of waiting for another person to pat you on the back, keep your own file of accomplishments and kudos. Gather the evidence of how you met your specific goals through a time log as a way of tracking your accomplishments. When you need a boost, tap into yourown line of credit and give yourself the gold star.
2. Give all the credit away
Celebrating someone else’s success or giving away praise to a group of peers, creates ripples within the workplace. Another way is to ask one of your team members for help. Without realizing it, you are offering praise by showing respect for someone’s knowledge and experience by acknowledging that you trust their judgement on a task.
3. Accountability is the magic
Invest time in conducting an accountability self-assessment. Rate yourself on each of the statements to determine whether you have an internal or external locus of control. “I am responsible for my learning to be successful, my manager should provide me all the information l need to do my job, my colleague’s behavior prevents me from performing exceptionally in my role and my commitment is the driver of my success”.
“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” – Carol Burnett
4. Upgrade your standards
Eliminate the need for external praise by setting personal goals and standards. Your personal accomplishments build your self-worth and encourage you to take on more challenges. Company leaders take notice on your professional strengths and how you drive results. Spend time with mentors exploring how you can improve your work habits
5. Praise is like sugar
You gorge on the chocolate chip biscuits, the Nutella laden pizzas and fairy floss to satisfy your hardwired cravings. Social media is the same. With every “like” and retweet, every selfie, share or filter, you are overfeeding your mind as you walk around with a boundless source of praise, taking a bite every single day.
Today, the praise bar is so low that the feedback you get is meaningless, but you want it anyway. You crave praise that requires little energy to acquire. No deep thought or real effort. The more you get, the less you feel it and the more you seek to attain the satisfaction.
6. Escape the Willy Wonka land of praise
Praise isn’t always a bad thing. When you aren’t inundated with praise every day for every little thing, it means more when you finally do get it. You work harder for it and its quality rises exponentially. Praise earned is richer and more satisfying than praise thoughtlessly given away. Disconnect from social media for 2 days and see how you feel. Reassess how you use your time and what sort of praise you truly value.
7. Define what you what to achieve
Investing in what you want to accomplish detracts from your need to seek constant validation from others. Define what your end of year review would say about you, perhaps write your own eulogy highlighting your achievements and turn them into goals. Break down your big widely audacious goal into doable steps and focus on the progress.
8. Trade in the flattering sidekick
Praise addiction can drive you to form connections with people who feed your ego and withhold honest feedback. Seeking people who think you are fabulous has limited use. Actively asking quality questions such as “what can l do better? What might l work on next time to take me to the next level?”, allows you to delve deeper in how you can add more value in the future.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
9. Small doses
What’s good for you in small doses can be bad for you if you have too much of it. Everything requires appropriate dosage. Over-praising can imply something is exceptional then that makes it the exception to what is within the range of normal or acceptable. Constantly praising you for not disobeying all the health and safety rules implies that disobeying these rules would be more normal for you. You don’t want healthy behavior to be exceptional.
10. Benchmark of excellence
Making a huge deal out of anything someone achieves or attempts, encourages praise addiction. Praising children for turning up to school, not being disruptive or completing their assignments is poor preparation for a life of real excellence as you turn ‘normal’ into excellent.
Genuine excellence thus loses its value. Focus on praising what is within the person’s control. For instance, praising someone on their commitment to hard work. It implies that success was something they could consciously influence. Highlighting how fabulous they are for completing something gives them no meaningful information about their contribution.
The right kind of praise at the right time with the right quantity can help you develop the habit of excellence. An uncontrolled diet of praise won’t do you or anyone else any favors.
What’s one thing strategy you can put in place to become your own inspiration?
Angela Kambouris used to work with high risk kids in the streets of Melbourne, now she has her own consultancy business and writes for large publications. As a leadership coach and business leader having spent over 20 years in the field of vulnerability and trauma, she has built a high-level career as an executive and transitioned into a business owner. She has spoken on stages and worked with thousands of people in self-development, leadership, mindset, human behavior and business. Love to travel, experience difference cultures and mastermind with leaders and expert authorities in personal development and business all over the world.