Be Bold! and discover the power of praise by Susan Mitchell, 18 of 52

We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be. Nelson Mandela

Last night I spent an evening with 2 women who have always sustained me with their power of praise. These women have an unflinching belief in me, open and bold with their capacity to see this and share that belief.  I am one of those truly blessed people on earth who has been surrounded by others who see something they like in you and are generous in their praise. Tall Poppy Syndrome does not exist in this world – it is regalled to that of an oxy-moron. What is it about praise that is so important and why should we be bothered with it? Isn’t it just stroking others egos?  Emphatically NO!  Praise is a fundamental human emotional need and something more powerful than most people recognise; it can embolden us to pursue our dreams.

I am not normally someone who buys self-help books – happily borrow from the library or read content on the internet. Last year I was very fortunate to receive a book voucher for my winning conference poster. As I perused and sought advice on a number of Anthropology texts on choice making and consumer behaviour, I saw this book’s profile and thought to myself “why not, this concept makes sense to me”.

Susan Mitchell hails from beautiful Adelaide, she has many years experience as a writer, television personality and radio host. I always enjoyed hearing her speak in her straight talking and intelligent style. So I considered if this translates to her book it should be a great read.

Indeed the book is very easy, interesting reading. It is peppered with quotes from interviews she has conducted with some of the most inspirational people of our time. They are always well considered and relevant to the discussion in the book. The concept is very simple and the few exercises that Mitchell requests us to do, are actually constructive and illustrative of the books message.

Mitchell asks us to identify moments in our lives where we have been praised by others, remember how that felt, in order to not only rejoice in that feeling but to accept it as our right. The book is not however, just about receiving praise! For myself the most important message of the book is the power that the praise of others brings to the receiver and the giver. We are inately reciprocal beings.

Now this isn’t like ‘The Secret’ concept of the universe will provide, Mitchell’s belief is that praise does in fact make us bold, in being bold we open ourselves to many new opportunities and experiences. I like that, and I’ve been experimenting with a couple of them. Funnily enough – this has been met with suspicion by my husband – which possibly demonstrates my neglect more than anything. I also see how this concept of praise can be applied to my work and study, when you feel praiseworthy you are likely to be more productive and creative.

As a parent though, I think this book delivers the most powerful message. Although Mitchell has no children herself, she taught for many years and understands what motivates kids. I agree it is vital that children understand that they have a right to be praised for good deeds and achievements. However, as a parent I also allow myself those moments of lapses in patience and maturity…oh yes, I can be just a child like as my own beautiful cherubs. Guess what works in reversing this feeling? I’m sure you guessed that praise is the answer; it frees you, it makes you bold.

So here’s a task for anyone reading my blog review today. Find someone you know and give them genuine praise or express your admiration or love for them. This is powerful stuff…just do it!

Readability 8 out of 10

Cant put down rating 6 out of 10 

Recommend to others 8 out of 10

Do I want to read another book by this author – Yes, I’m interested to read her collection of interviews called Tall Poppies!


10 thoughts on “Be Bold! and discover the power of praise by Susan Mitchell, 18 of 52

  1. Hello Carolyn.

    Ok, here’s my piece of praise – homework set by you above.

    I look forward each week to reading your book reviews. I am constantly amazed by your ability to read and review a book a week, in addition to your family life, studying, work and board work, not letting anything slip. You are a great role model for your kids as well as the wider community of friends and colleagues.

    In my eyes this has been your top review. At my husband’s prompting I have been getting hooked on the new Dr Who. In particular the way he praises the “humans” he cares about. I’ve been applying this praise to my family and friends.

    So you have inspired me to seek out Susan’s book.

    Thank you.

    1. Dear Melissa, Thank you for your lovely comments, and great to see you took up my challenge. I know that you are someone who practices this as part of who they are. I agree with your thoughts on Dr Who, and I reckon the secret is that he loves humanity with unconditional love. This is probably the core of why it is such a great show and beautifully illustrates how praise is powerful. Carolyn x

  2. I’m inspired! I’m sure there are a few members of my family (in particular a 12 old going on 20 year old daughter) who would benefit from a little mindful praise about now 🙂

  3. So very true Carolyn… thanks for sharing your wonderful words once again… you are an absolute inspiration… my love and admiration is yours… :o) xxx

  4. Dear Carolyn,
    Thank you for the blog this week, it is a timely reminder on the power of praise, or lack of, I’d like to share two short stories that have taught me about praise:

    1.Growing up in a large Catholic family, Sunday mornings were often spent in church, my father loved singing the hymns that interspersed what was often a long boring service. Mum felt embarrassed by her husbands enthusiastic singing. She would tell us that “our family couldn’t sing”. She meant, not that we “couldn’t sing” rather that we had no singing abilities so best to not damage the air with our flat voices. Guess what? Today I cannot sing, and if you overheard me singing I would feel ashamed of my lack of ability!

    2. As a small boy Clancy sang all day long, he was a really sweet little boy (and now still lovely at 18!). His father and I would often tell him that he was a terrific singer. This would encourage him to sing louder and for longer! As he grew into primary school years the singing naturally faded out. When Clancy was about 14, he came home from school and told me he was in a band, I wondered what his role would be? He had only just started to strum a guitar? He said confidently “I’m the singer!”. And I started to think “our family can’t sing, oh dear this could be embarrassing!”. I asked Clancy: “Are you any good?” he replied “Yeah, I’m not too bad!” And his singing career began with confidence and a terrific smile, he loves to sing, and we love to listen!

    1. Thanks for those fantastic stories Jane. What a wonderful link to the power of praise and how it makes us bold to strive for our desires. I often wonder what our 3 will end up doing as adults. xxx

  5. All praise where praise is due, my dear Carolyn. I often wonder how Mozart’s career would have progressed if his parents had just told him: “Keep quiet and don’t touch the keyboard”.

    I have a copy of Susan Mitchell’s Tall Poppies (Penguin 1984), and like you I don’t usually buy “self-help” books (though I sometimes receive them as gifts and wonder what people might be telling me there?!).

    But certainly, boldness needs to be nurtured in those with otherwise hidden talents, hence the useful of appropriate praise. I am especially reminded of something Bryce Courtenay wrote in A Recipe for Dreaming (William Heinemann 1994): “When we chop down the tall poppies only the weeds remain.”

    With very best wishes, Twaklin

    1. Thanks for commenting Twaklin. I feel so honoured that you have taken the time to share your enlightened views of the world with me. I particularly like the Courtenay quote. Your idea of extending Bastille Day National holiday to South Australia has great merit! Carolyn x

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