Three Ways Applause is Like Perfume

I love applause.

So do you.

I was at my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary this past weekend. I was required to give a toast to the happy bride and groom. So, as a good son should, I did.

A lot of thought went into this speech. After all, how many fiftieth wedding anniversary parties will a couple have? It was important to make it count, so I directed my energies to doing just that.

Great talks require preparation. Great preparation means an investment of time, research, and a dash of creativity. It means including things in your talk that will appeal to your audience.

In other words, even if you appear to be winging it because you’re so relaxed, you are so relaxed because you’re so prepared.

Nothing great is free. Even perfume has its price. That’s the first way perfume is like applause. To receive it, you have to pay for it.

After I gave the toast, it seemed like nearly everyone I spoke with told me how great my speech was. I felt like a guru at a love festival.

Everyone needs some applause from time to time. We all need to know when we’ve done good work that has made a difference. Getting applause makes us feel good, which leads us to do even better work in the future.

But just like a fun vacation comes to an end on the dreaded Monday morning after, applause fades like smoke from a waning fire.

The second way applause is like perfume is that over time the pleasing scent fades.

If you’ve ever watched American Idol, you’ve seen the first few episodes when those poor souls who think they have talent come on and make fools of themselves. Their friends have lavished praise on them, so they take it to heart.

Then they hit the cold rocks of reality when the judges cut the performance short with a chorus of “no”s.

“Why?” they plead.

“You stink.”

That leads to the third way applause is like perfume. If you stink, all the perfume in the world won’t help.

If you stink, all the applause in the world won’t change it.

Besides, it’s harder to learn from success than it is from failure.

Keep up the good work, stay clean, and you’ll hear the applause you crave.