“That was one of the best coffees I have had for a long time. No joke. What’s the secret?”

“22 grams in around 20 seconds,” said Juan,

and then proceeded to give me a lecture on brewing, the different types of coffee beans with respective measurements and heating levels for each, etc. The passion was evident, and he knew his stuff.

I was being instructed by an artist, a craftsman, an artisan. Thirty minutes went by and as I headed out as a more astute coffee drinker, Juan said “Thanks. I was not expecting that. Most people only tell you what is wrong.”

As I was driving home, I wondered why this is the case? Why are we so quick at calling people out when something is bad or not “perfect” and so slow or non-existent at calling out the good in others? Have we become unreasonable in our expectations and feel compelled to flag these when not met? Or are we dealing with bad service and products all around? Have we become accustomed to lash out when something does not meet our expectations? Or are we making up for all those times we did not say something when perhaps we should have?

But more to the point, when was the last time we caught someone doing something right as I just had with Juan. He cared greatly about what he was doing for me and it showed. I noticed this and said something. I had no expectations from him, nor he had any from me. Just an honest, authentic and passionate exchange of words.

Earlier this year I did Seth Godin’s altMBA and in one of our Prompts, we had to become a goodfinder – someone in the habit of catching people caring. The specific task was to find at least 3 people doing something right, every day for at least one month. But it had to be authentic, with no expectations of any return, coming from the “real” us. We had to do it because it was true, not because we had to do it.

From the checkout lady at the supermarket who “owns” her register with confidence and panache, to a barista like Juan, who gave a damn about making every cup of coffee perfect, to your daughter who went above and beyond in her studies (even if the outcome did not reflect this fully), to the guy at the traffic lights that insists in cleaning your windshield even though you said no and then you notice the pride, passion and care he does it with.

If we notice, the possibilities are endless. If we notice, everywhere we look, we will find people doing right. So the task is for the “real” you to tell them you caught them doing right. Do it with authenticity and with no expectations. Try it – 3 people, at least 30 days and then continue. 

I can almost bet that you will change as much as the person getting caught doing right. And the more we do this, with authenticity and truth, the more broadly we can spread this positive change.