Categorized | Opinion

Catch Them Doing the Right Thing

By Mike T. Smith

Open Mike for webAs parents, teachers and leaders we’re often quick to point out when a teen is doing something wrong, and that’s okay. The problem is that we tend to stay quiet when they are doing something right. I’m not saying ignore all the wrong things and give people false praise that’s not deserved. I also don’t believe in participation trophies, but that’s for another day. It is our duty to steer them straight and guide them along the way.
All I’m saying is teens know that we will catch them doing wrong, so let’s catch them doing something right.
Even John Wooden, arguably the greatest basketball coach ever, lived by this philosophy. Every year he had a brand new group of young men in his gym trying out for the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team. Every year he had to cut many of them from the team. Some just weren’t good enough to play at that level. While Coach Wooden’s job was to get the best talent on his team so they could compete he also understood that such a disappointing blow could destroy a young person’s confidence and self esteem. The typical way most coaches cut players is to post a sheet somewhere with a list of the people who made it and if your name wasn’t on that list, then that means  you were cut. Coach Wooden loved and respected people so much that he would sit down with everyone he had to cut one on one, and explain to them their strong points and tell them what they need to work on.  When it applied he would even tell them what other UCLA sports they should try out for based on their athletic ability.
What a class act, and what a model to follow when dealing with people.
So let’s catch them doing something right. It gets old and it’s very disheartening to anyone if we believe only the wrong things we do are noticed. There was a saying at one of my old jobs that went, “If you’re not hearing from them it means you’re doing okay, because they’ll let you know when they’re not happy.”
It doesn’t mean you have to hang a ‘GREAT JOB’ banner up every time, all it takes is a short verbal statement. See someone doing something good, pull them aside and let them know that you recognized it and that you’re proud of them for it. Knowing it’s noticed and appreciated may even make them make a habit of it.
Mike T. Smith is a youth motivational speaker and the columnist of The Millington Star column OPEN MIKE, but of course if you’re still reading you knew that by now. To book Mike to speak at your event visit

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February 2015
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