I learned to juggle when I was ten years old. For years I had watched my parents practice for hours as they polished up the juggling act that they regularly performed before audiences. On summer nights after my father came home from his day job, they would practice their routine repeatedly until it was too dark too see and the lightning bugs emerged. He was striving for perfection and he persisted, not always patiently, but with diligence.
Eventually my younger sister learned to juggle and begin winning numerous talent contests with an acrobatic dance act that incorporated her juggling skills. I was content to learn to play the violin and had no interest in becoming part of the juggling act.
Then, when my cousins came to visit one summer, they learned to juggle. That was the incentive I needed. I did not want to feel left out. I shut myself away in my parents' bedroom for hours and practiced until I too could juggle three lacrosse balls. Patience was a necessity and persistence was the key to learning the juggling skill. Soon I too was a juggler.
When I debuted my newly acquired juggling skill to my family they were all surprised that I had secretly learned to juggle on my own. My father was thrilled and praised my accomplishment. I felt proud about what I was now able to do. He and I both knew that I was going to be integrated into the Juggling Jackson act.
My dad could be a hard taskmaster because he was serious about the Juggling Jacksons becoming the best. It made perfect sense. We were paid to go before crowds that expected professional entertainment. We did not want to look foolish or give the act a bad name. Like my parents had done when I was a young onlooker, now they and my sister and I practiced the new act repeatedly in our small living room in San Diego, California. Praise of our achievements, promise of the opportunities to come, and a bit of strategic bribery pushed us onward to perfecting the act.
A performer basks in the adulation of audience applause. This became a main driving force for me from my first stage appearance. This is the praise that a performer thrives on the most. Of course, making money was another big encouragement. Here I was just a kid and getting paid $25 per show--not too shabby in the early sixties. And we'd always get rewarded after each show with a dinner at a fancy restaurant. My father knew the value of providing incentives.
The money, the incentives, the audience, and the positive words are all forms of praise. Right now I'm practicing in my living room to hone my writing act. Hopes of money and incentives are aspired, but for now it is you as my audience and your sweet words of praise that encourage me and keep me going.
We all need this encouragement and it is likewise good for us to praise each other. The compliments elicit smiles from our hearts and a sense of well-being with our inner selves. If we must criticize, then it should be to instruct and help others to improve upon what they do. Tearing others down doesn't help them or you. Praising other people makes them look good, but it makes you look even better.
Are you receiving encouragement through your blogging efforts? How do you encourage other bloggers? What have you accomplished in your life through persistent patience that has gained you praise?