Did you watch the Grammy Awards a few weeks ago? I did for the first time in years. In part because I was curious how the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was going to honor Whitney Houston – the day after her untimely transition. (As an aside, I believe it was deftly done and that LL Cool J did a superb job of setting the tone.)

I had not expected to watch the entire show, but I did. And never could I have imagined doing so would result in a teachable moment about the gracious nature of receiving.

How well do you handle praise? Do you soak it all in? Or, do you quickly brush it aside?

A friend and I were having dinner, doing what normally happens when people haven’t connected in awhile. In our case, that involved catching each other up on what’s been happening in our lives the last two years. For her, that included having two children and learning how to navigate the “new” culture and office politics that are the result of her firm being acquired; as for me, my book was published and I launched a conference. She was aware of my activities because as she said, “…I read every one of your newsletters…” But she wanted to know more about the “experience” of these endeavors.

As I described the process of each – sharing both the highs and lows – I noticed an unpleasant habit of mine. It’s one I share with a lot of people, maybe even you: I tend to quickly dismiss praise.

Every time she said “congratulations” or “that’s great” or “I’m so happy for you” with the biggest smile on her face and the brightest eyes to match, I’d say “thank you”and very quickly shift the focus of the conversation. Or, dwell on a particular obstacle. At some point, I had an outer-body moment, observed myself and wondered, “Why can’t I accept her praise?” After all, she’s genuinely reveling in my success.

And this brings me back to the Grammy’s and, specifically, Adele’s performance. If you didn’t see it, check it out on YouTube. She rocked “Rolling in the Deep”!!! Watch it thru to the end and notice what she does when she gets a standing ovation…she takes it ALL in. She smiles; she slowly looks in every direction of the auditorium; and she does this for a full 40 seconds!! For 40 seconds, she allowed herself to take it all in. For 40 seconds, she allowed the audience to give her their all.

She stood; she accepted; and she gave. Awesome.

Who knows if Adele had to learn how to accept praise. (I believe that for most of us, it is a skill we have to practice.) Who knows how well she understands that there will always be a gap between what people see versus what you envisioned your creation would be. But one thing is certain by her body language on that stage: She understands that accepting praise has just as much to do with her as it does with letting others appreciate her. That’s the funny thing about praise…it isn’t just about us and it isn’t just for us.

P.S. The Financial Intimacy Conference – the “unfinancial,” financial conference about money, love and relationships will be in LA on 3/7. Register today!

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