There were two outs, and I was up at bat. It was late in the game, and the score was close. We needed a run, but I was a very average second baseman. Trying to fake confidence, I nervously stepped to the plate.
“Strike one!” “Strike two!” The next pitch was fast and outside, but I wanted to hit it so badly I swung anyway. I heard a “crack” and watched my line drive sail over the third baseman’s head. I dropped my bat and ran, the first base coach waving me on to second. Adrenaline pumping, I rounded the base and saw the third base coach signal me to hold up. I had a stand-up double.
I was excited, but believe it or not, the hit wasn’t the most memorable part of the game. What I remember most is that my head coach called time out, left the dugout, and ran across the field. He hurried to second base with a huge smile on his face. “Good job! That’s how to hit!” He gave me a high five, then ran back to the dugout. The ump yelled “batter up,” and the game went on.
I think we won, but to be truthful, I don’t remember for sure. What I do remember is the coach’s compliment. It made me want to do better. I’ve noticed such moments don’t usually take much effort and don’t require a lot of time, but their effects last and last.
I’ve also noticed how often and how sincerely President Gordon B. Hinckley compliments people. For example, he said: “We honor and respect you young men. You represent a marvelous generation in this Church. I have said again and again that I believe this is the best generation we have ever had. You and the young women are tremendous. You study the scriptures. You pray. You attend seminary at sacrifice to yourselves. You try to do the right thing. You have testimonies of this work, and most of you live accordingly. I compliment you most generously! I express to you our great love for you” (“Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 51).
Compliments make us want to do better in simple but important ways. And President Hinckley has said something about that, too. He taught:
“I am suggesting that as we go through life we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. …
“What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears” (“The Continuing Pursuit of Truth,” Ensign, Apr. 1986, 2, 4).
Receiving sincere compliments affects us for good. So does giving them. I believe that when compliments come from the heart, they bring with them the Spirit of the Lord.