group of business men and women standing in a line clapping and smiling“He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers.” Henry Brooks Adams, an American historian, said that at the turn of the last century. He was claiming that those who encourage others serve a certain purpose. How true! And I might add that it is a worthy purpose.

One highlight of my life was volunteering as a MDA summer camp counselor during my college years. Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and Down syndrome limited one of my camper’s ability to compete in team sports. Yet there were no limits to his ability to boisterously cheer on his team during the games, and to support his teammates with sideline hugs.

We all need to feel acknowledged, accepted and appreciated. Imagine a world in which no one ever gave or received a word of praise, a pat on the back, or a round of applause. Imagine attending athletic events and theatrical performances and never clapping our hands, rising from our seats, or shouting our approval. Imagine a world in which no one ever said, “Way to go!”

At the time of my promotion from hospital-based executive to the system office, I asked my CEO for whatever advice he might offer. I was expecting him to respond with something like: “Learn to say ‘no’” or “Prioritize your workload.” Instead, he encouraged me to look for every opportunity to thank those in the local markets for their tireless work on behalf of the people they serve. I have kept his wise counsel in mind and have tried to put it into practice, however inadequately.

To those who make it their “certain purpose” to encourage and thank someone in their home, workplace, school or community today, I say, “Way to go!”