How the Right Kind of Praise Fuels Big Potential

I just finished the fourth book on February’s reading list, Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shawn Achor.

It’s was well worth the read.


Favorite quote: “We all have power to make others better.”

A takeaway: Stop comparison praise.

“You’re the smartest person in the room,” is comparing not praising. What happens when she isn’t the smartest person in the room?

Don’t prop people up by kicking others down.

Shawn says, “Do not compliment at the expense of others.” Eliminate “est”. You are the best, fastest, smartest, prettiest.

Sexiest man alive:

While writing this, I thought about the sexiest man alive.

Blake Shelton is the sexiest man alive according to People Magazine. I like how Shelton makes fun of his sexiness. But the list is a form of propping up by kicking down.

What about former sexiest men like Dwayne Johnson, Adam Levine, or my personal favorite George Clooney? Gee! If I could just be as sexy as George Clooney life would be complete.

“If you want to enhance others do not compare them. … Nothing undercuts big potential more than comparison praise.” Shawn Achor

Rather than comparing, say “I admire the way you spoke calmly to that angry customer.”

Next level praise:

Invite recipients of praise to teach you. For example, “How did you learn to be so calm under stress?”


What books do you suggest for March’s reading list?

February’s list included:

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord. (Done)

When: The Scientific Secret to Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink. (Done)

Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People by Mark Miller. See this morning’s post for a chance to Talent Magnet. (Done)

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle is next.