I found this anecdote a while back:

“Maya Angelou was once asked what was her secret to being such a good writer and poet. Her response was, ‘Because when I was a little girl, every time I walked into a room my daddy’s eyes lit up.’”

I can’t trace it to an interview with Maya Angelou or verify it’s her story, but it rings true for me and seems to fit what I know of her. Every person is unique and has the gift of their never-to-be-duplicated presence to offer. But that sense of worth needs nurturing, and the potential for a truly radiant spirit and creative gift can be quashed without regular doses of encouragement and eye-shining love.

Whose eyes have shined for you? Who has given you the courage to be your best, to dare to be more than even you have imagined?

My parents, my grandmother, my sister. They all made me feel like I was special. My wife has the most amazing eyes of anyone I’ve ever seen, and I was smitten on our first date when she shined those gorgeous blue eyes on me with as much delight and focused attention as I’d ever known, as if I were, at that moment, the most interesting man in the world.

And when I’m giving a presentation, I live for those in the audience who smile back at me, who nod and engage from where they are. Who laugh at my humor, or fake it just to be kind. And I want to be that kind of person for someone else when I’m in an audience.

I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people offer me encouragement throughout my life. Who do you need to appreciate for the encouragement you’ve received? Who have been your biggest fans?

And who gets the gift of your shining eyes? Who do you light up for? Whose fire can you warm yourself at?

I want to regularly light up for my wife and daughters and for the people I work with and for strangers who cross my path. It’s easy to take for granted the people we see often. But those closest to us deserve to be reminded that we are grateful for their presence.

It takes courage to express enthusiasm when “meh” is the prevailing sentiment.

Most human interactions are self-absorbed and monotonously sterile. Genuine enthusiasm and delight and focused attention seem shocking by comparison, and it takes courage to express enthusiasm when “meh” is the prevailing sentiment. But don’t you grow a little bigger inside when someone lights up at your presence?

Have the courage to be encouraging, to embolden those you encounter. Give your complete attention to the person in front of you. Genuinely connect with the random people you see and may never see again as well as with the people in your life every day. Be known for the energizing effect you have just for the delight you take in acknowledging the presence of others.

Get excited and allow your eyes to light up when others walk in the room. Shine for someone.