Kunio Hara is the creator of the renowned HO-ME-I-KU Method, an effective employee and executive education program for achieving success.
I gave a speech in front of UN officials in September on the theme “people are born to be praised and exist to praise one another.” I was born to spread this idea, and since I was 9 years old, I have conducted activities related to “Ho-Me-I-Ku,” which means “praise and raise” and is also the name of my business. So, this seminar was one of the most significant experiences in my life so far.
About 150 educators, business leaders, UN officials and experts from around the world gathered for the seminar. I was filled with gratitude to my parents, family and many others who supported me, and I also felt compelled to pay the greatest compliment to myself. The experience was invaluable for me. In my speech, I talked about how I created the Ho-Me-I-Ku method, not only to introduce the habit of praising into education but also to deliver another important message: to take good care of the people close to you.
Why do I want to spread this message to the world? Due to various world situations, many people are struggling. The economy has taken hits in recent years, and many are facing challenging situations as a result. You might feel as if the sun has disappeared. But I believe that if people were to share more praise, we could all help brighten the world and become the sun ourselves. It costs nothing and can be done by anybody, anywhere.
Praise can be especially powerful when applied to the business world for three reasons: First, I find that the words we use, whether directed toward ourselves or others, can have a profound impact on our mental state and behavior. Second, I believe humanity starts with words. Third, this mindset can help leaders and teams focus on the positive, use positive words and manage their emotions.
As a widely shared quote puts it, “Watch your thoughts, for they become words; watch your words, for they become actions; watch your actions, for they become habits; watch your habits, for they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
If you are involved in the management of your company, you’ll encounter incidents that you might not have anticipated, and no matter how hard you try, things might not always turn out well. And, as I said in my speech, the global economy has been severely damaged. Some of you might be feeling down if your company’s performance is taking a nosedive, and some of you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed. However, you must pull together and get through this.
It is precisely at times like these that I would like you to give praise to both you and others. Consider creating a recurring day to share praise in your company. Praise one another to the fullest on that day. Bosses praise their employees, and employees praise their bosses and peers. In my experience, by complimenting one another, the workplace can feel safer, and coworkers can act independently and build relationships with one another. I’ve found this, in turn, can help with productivity, turnover and performance.
To get started, coordinate and make it a habit to praise one another in a monthly praise meeting. Tell everyone who the MVP of the month is, and recognize the staff member who has shown growth that month. Say good things and brag about your employees, your supervisor, etc. at the beginning of the meeting.
Of course, colleagues should also praise one another. Encourage them to add the word “praise” to communication with team members, such as “praise meetings” and “praise morning meetings.” Let your peers know about the compliments you missed sharing on a daily basis. Tell them specifically when it happened, and praise them politely and with emotion.
It is also important to give yourself “self-praise.” Praise yourself to the fullest for working hard and not losing sight of your goal. Even if there are times you feel lonely or unsure of yourself as a leader, be thankful for being you today, and rest your hands on your body. I believe your hands have the power to heal, and the Japanese have a word for it: “te-ate,” which means putting a hand on the body. As you do so, say, “I am always with my body,” and have gratitude.
When you praise yourself and others in your personal and professional life, I believe you can realize that life is precious, and you’re able to appreciate the life you only live once. Consider how you can bring this practice into your own workplace and help your team members smile.
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