Can you stop at these two words?

Short of being a slap on the wrist, I’m sliding a challenge across the table this week, for you to accept and conquer. Don't worry, it won't require anything more of you than saying two words. Let me explain:

There she sat at the breakfast table, just before our morning run to kindergarten, in her full made-over glory. My daughter had gone to town with her kiddie makeup kit she often whips out in the ten minutes before we leave the house to go somewhere ‘nice’. Think Lady-Gaga rocking heavy-handed lipstick with lashings of blue eye shadow upon pink eye shadow upon blue eye shadow. On a last-minute mirror check, she'd clearly decided that too much glitter was simply not enough.

With tongue in cheek, I commented “I love your eyeshadow, darling. It’s very striking.” To which she grinned, looked me square in the eye and said:

Thank you.

Nothing more, nothing less. And with that, she turned back to her Weeties, unknowingly smearing glittery lip gloss across her cheek as she wiped milk from her chin.

Days later I was deep in conversation with a client. Despite the fact they possess the skillz that pay the billz - and then some - they couldn’t seem to get their business off the ground. When I asked if they could pinpoint why, they answered with surprising confidence. "I don’t believe in myself, so why would my customers? I put myself down and say things that scare them off - which is just so stupid."

They didn’t notice they’d put themselves down while explaining the fact they repeatedly put themselves down. In fact, the one thing they knew with confidence was that they lacked confidence. Oh, the irony. It would almost be funny, if it wasn’t heartbreaking.

Our businesses aren’t just built on the back of our skill set. They’re built on the back of our confidence.

At what point in our lives did we go from pocketing compliments like a $20 note found on a deserted footpath, to chipping away at our own worth and credibility before others have a chance to come at us with a compliment we don't know what to do with?

Today, when someone sings praise about your work, your business, those new earrings, your kind gesture, and every other amazing quality you bring to the table, stop yourself at Thank You. Stop yourself before you add “well it’s not that hard/ anyone could do it/ I’m not sure they really suit me /oh it was nothing/ me, really? And do your girlfriends a favour by insisting they do the very same.

Then, watch what happens to the bigger challenges we seek to overcome, once we conquer the (seemingly) small and most important ones.