How often do you affirm other people? I mean, honestly recognizing qualities and positive traits—some amazing skill or ability they have. I’m guessing not very often.

Yesterday, I spoke to two friends. One of them I’ve known since 1988 when we were both new meter readers at our local power company. The other one, I met in February, the weekend we held Mark’s Celebration of Life at Brown.

The former knew Mark from the age of five and saw him grow into his teenage years. We’d lost touch as Mark got into college. But with true friends, a sabbatical isn’t a deal breaker.

My old friend was crushed when he learned Mark was killed. I’d called him the next day because I knew he’d find out and I wanted him to hear from me. He’s been there for me over the past eight months.

My newer friend and Mark were colleagues at Brown. Both navigated the school’s Literary Arts program together, earning MFAs. They are also poets.

We’ve been calling every other week and have deep and meaningful conversations about life. Yesterday, we were talking about how rare it is in this life to receive validation.

It’s interesting that our current president is a man who has made his way to the top by doing the opposite—tearing down others and seeking to destroy them. That says a great deal about the value that Americans place on catching others doing good and authentically recognizing that.

The summer of 2017 has been a living hell and that’s no exaggeration. I find myself sad, bitter, and at times, wanting to give up. But for some reason, I haven’t quit. I’ve even managed to find the best in others as I’ve been making my way through this season of grief.

I’m a fan of Seth Godin. His book, Poke the Box, profoundly changed my trajectory in 2012. I’d been about reinvention for nearly a decade at that point, but Godin’s book helped re-orient me at a time I needed a tune-up. Mark and I discussed the book and he read it, too. Godin also said that “validation is overrated.” What?

Seth Godin’s best, IMHO.

I get that. If you wait around for it from others, you’ll likely die alone in the corner, and your project will wither and die before someone pays you a compliment. Find another way to validate who you are and what you are doing that’s amazing. If you aren’t doing anything that you think is amazing, take steps towards it, today. Get better at what you do.

Today, I’m mailing a copy of Poke the Box to another “new” friend that I’ll be hiking with in two weeks. He’s embracing some new things and I’m confident he’s going to rock it hard. I wanted to let him know I was thinking of him, and acknowledge my admiration for what he’s doing. I think Godin will inspire him, too.

Find someone and let them know you appreciate them, and their uniqueness. If not today, then real soon.