To Validate

Posted on May 9, 2010


I never had the aspiration to be a parking attendant, yet I do want to be more like a fictitious parking attendant I was introduced to recently. I shared his story with our staff.

I am responsible for leading the staff meetings at our office.  A short time ago I turned to YouTube for the short film, Validation, to begin one of our monthly meetings. This 16 minute film is about a parking attendant who goes well beyond validating parking tickets—he validates the individual. This fable accurately tells the story of how our encouraging words can not only brighten someone’s day, but change their life.

The day after I showed the film to our staff, one of our employees shared with me how she had successfully applied the lesson learned with her daughter.  I, too, have found myself thinking about the value of an encouraging word. Yet, I’m not a natural encourager. I think one my gifts is seeing what needs to be fixed and trying to find a solution to fix it. I find it much easier to notice what is wrong, not what is right.

However, if I am completely honest, I would admit that I have been thinking about how important it is to me that I receive words of encouragement. I think we are all this way.  Sure, personality test will reveal that some of us are motivated more, than others, by encouraging words. Yet, all of us need encouragement. We want affirmation. We want to know that others value us. We want to be validated.

Validation can come from many sources such as a grade on a test, a new client, increased profit or revenue, the highest score, a second date, or the championship ring. Yet, for most of us the most meaningful validations come in the form of words from those who matter the most to us.  We want to be validated by parents—and our children. We want to hear our boss validate our efforts on the job. We want to receive validation from coworkers.  We crave the affirming validation from our spouse.

Our Creator created us with the need for validation. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing,” I Thessalonians 5:11). Taking the time to validate someone is the one of the most meaningful gifts we can give.

The gift of validation, however, needs to be genuine. I once worked with someone who was extremely genuine with correction, but fake when he offered encouragement. Often, he would say something encouraging in order to pave the way for the correction he wanted to give. His affirmations began to sound more and more hollow—they lost their punch. In order for validation to be genuine it must be real and offered with no hidden agenda.

As for me, I am now making a new effort to notice the good in those around me—and then affirm the good by sharing genuine words of affirmation. As for you, I hope you will validate this blog by joining me in affirming those who cross our paths.