One of my favorite quotes from Dale Carnegie is, “Always give someone a grand reputation to live up to.”

When I was doing my training as a coach and speaker here in the US one of the assisting staff would always have something delightful to say to all of us as participants. Each day as I walked in the room, she’d always come up to me and whisper something wonderful in my ear and I remember clearly how special I’d feel because of what she’d said. As if by magic, I also seemed to take on board those extraordinary qualities and characteristics that she had suggested to me.

After this experience, I must admit I was a little curious as to what the result would be if I did this with others, so I began experimenting with it and putting it to the test. When giving constructive feedback to a person, I’d layer in a powerful and positive quality or qualities that this individual could excel at. What I found was astonishing.

Since these early days, I’ve had the pleasure of applying this adage when working with my clients, when training speakers to present on stage, working with performers to perform on stage, working with entrepreneurs and business owners, working with athletes as well as young children and teens. It never ceases to amaze me by giving someone a compliment that encompasses a vision of what they are capable of (the grand reputation of who they are, who they are rising up to become) that “lo and behold” they embrace this reputation and actually become it.

It’s like planting a seed in the fertile soil of an individual’s imagination and once it sprouts it takes on a life of its own. The mere act of having another person corroborate your dream, what you are passionate about, ignites that little spark that gives you the impetus to take that leap of faith and soar.

As a business strategy, this can be extremely useful when you want to encourage employees, colleagues or partners to take that next step that will propel them to a higher level of excellence, achievement and performance and its inevitable higher level of success.

So how do you do this?

From personal interaction you discover what that individual wants to excel at, what they want to aspire to become and then you “paint the picture” of them and this quality or set of attributes when you describe to them who they are. For example, if a person wants to become physically fit and improve their level of health you might say, “You’re phenomenally fit and healthy with a slim, lithe and agile body.”

If a person wants to improve their leadership skills you might say, “You’re a tremendous leader who motivates and inspires others to rise up and step into their greatness.”

If a person needs to improve their productivity and how they show up and perform within your company you might say, “You’re a highly focused and productive individual who goes out of their way to strive for excellence.”

You create a snapshot of their ideal self (their grand reputation) through your words and comments. These form the stepping-stones that lead to new neural pathways that positively enhance the way they think and feel about themselves. These changes in thoughts, beliefs and feelings, change their behavior, their results and their overall success.

Sprinkle in these “grand reputation” comments regularly when giving feedback, when interacting on a daily basis with your team, employees and partners, when wanting to ‘pay it forward.’

Then watch what happens!


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