Stop and Admire

This is an excerpt from my new book, Organizational Psychology for Managers.

As we’ve discussed in previous chapters, celebrating success is a critical part of building motivation and accomplishing long-term goals. Celebrating success is part of how we know we’re on track. One component of celebrating those successes along the way is to periodically pause to admire your handiwork. The basic rule here is this:

You will never admire it more than you do right now.

This requires some explanation. Any complex project has intermediate steps. Those steps are opportunities to stop and take a long, hard, look at your work. Do you like what you see? If you don’t, sleep on it. If you still don’t like it, you won’t like it more when you’re done; in fact, the odds are very high that you’ll like it much much less. If you ignore that feeling, then each subsequent step is going to remind you of the thing you didn’t like, which is only going to to undermine your enthusiasm for the project. When we’ve worked hard at something and we just don’t feel good about the result, that’s a clue that something is wrong. It may not be immediately obvious what that wrong thing is, but the odds are pretty darn good that it’s there and whatever it is isn’t going to just get up and walk away on its own.

When we were remodeling one of the bathrooms in our house, my wife designed and built several ceramic tile shelves, complete with colored glass trim that matched the shower enclosure. She completed the shelves, and stopped to admire them. She wasn’t happy with the result. She couldn’t really put her finger on why, but something wasn’t right. She ended up redoing them. The second time around was not only much better, but once we had the redone shelves to look at, even I could clearly see why the originals didn’t work. One very important lesson here is that you can’t always tell what’s wrong until you redo it; if you redo it and you and find you can admire it, it’ll also often be obvious what was wrong before.

An important caveat here is that this method works in the context of having defined goals for what you are trying to accomplish. Without goals, you have nothing to measure against. Without that sense of comparison, your ability to admire is likely to be influenced by any number of extraneous factors. As with all skills, this technique gets better with practice.


Organizational Psychology for Managers is phenomenal.  Just as his talks at conferences are captivating to his audience, Steve’s book will captivate his readers.  In my opinion, this book should be required reading in MBA programs, military leadership courses, and needs to be on the bookshelf of every Fortune 1000 VP of Human Resources.  Steve Balzac is the 21st century’s Tom Peters.

Stephen R Guendert, PhD

CMG Director of Publications


Leave a comment

Your comment