In brief: don’t buy a cheap zoom lens.

When you’re learning a craft, the best tool to use is the one that shows you the limits of your ability. It’s the eight-inch chef’s knife, the bolt-action rifle, the fast normal prime lens. It exposes your shortcomings long before any of its own flaws come into play. The perfect tool for a student to use isn’t the one that does anything you want—it’s the one that makes you choose what to want.

Everybody likes presents, right?

A friend gives you a good book that she thinks you’ll like. How should you respond?

A) Wow, you don’t know me at all.
B) I like your shoes!
C) Thank you!

Lots of us would just say “Thank you!”, without blushing or refusing to accept, but we often have trouble knowing how to respond to compliments. We get embarrassed; we deny everything; we change the subject. Why not just gracefully accept the compliment? Accepting compliments strengthens your strengths and deepens your relationships.

Next time someone offers you praise or appreciation, try this:

1. Listen attentively without interrupting. Make eye contact if you can.
2. Let the compliment sink in for a moment. Let it be true.
3. Say “Thank you.”

That’s all it takes!

If you want to, you can say why you appreciate it:

  • how it makes you feel to hear it (“I’m really pleased to hear that.”)
  • which of your personal values is being acknowledged (“Social justice is important to me.”)
  • if you don’t agree with the compliment, you can still appreciate the giver’s intent (“You’re so kind to say so!”)