“When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own. There are times of great uncertainty in every life. Left alone at such a time, you feel dishevelment and confusion like gravity. When a friend comes with words of encouragement, a light and lightness visit you and you begin to find the stairs and the door out of the dark. The sense of encouragement you feel from the friend is not simply her words or gestures; it is rather her whole presence enfolding you and helping you find the concealed door. The encouraging presence manages to understand you and put herself in your shoes. There is no judgment but words of relief and release.”
How do you think of encouragement?
If you’re like many people, you think it’s something like telling someone that they can do it – whatever “it” is. Or, maybe you might think it’s a pat on the back – a kind of propulsion to keep going.
When you think about it these might qualify as encouragement but only at the lightest level.
Encouragement is one of the most powerful gifts we can give. It comes in so many forms. At the lightest level it is telling someone they have it in them to do something bigger that what they see as possible for themselves.
As you delve deeper into encouragement, it engages both the encourager in honing their powers of observation, listening, reflecting and becoming more aware of what they can offer to themselves and others. As you become intentional in your life, noticing who needs to feel seen, be heard, acknowledged, appreciated, you also notice what is most important to you. You start to become committed to a way of life that is life-giving. You know that it is time to relinquish old patterns that no longer serve you as you acknowledge and start to use your gifts to enlarge the life around you.
Encouragement may be the act of illuminating something that may have been hidden from someone for many years. It transmits permission to be courageous in situations where there is great fear. It is a method of creating belongingness, especially when someone feels disconnected.
It certainly isn’t for those only down on their luck. It’s a horizon widener, an idea expander, a method of helping others feel seen or heard or both.
How many times can you think of others whom you may have misjudged? There might have been kids at school when you were young that everyone viewed as failures when, in reality, they simply may have been less mature or perhaps learned differently/ Instead of understanding, they may have been offered scorn – not only from the bully leaders in the school but from some faculty as well. Many of these kids somehow left school damaged, but in spite of their experience found success as adults in various fields of endeavor.
The trickiest thing about encouragement is that we use it when we think of it- randomly.
We think of ourselves as “good” people and, in most cases, that’s true. Is “being good” good enough?
If someone told you that you have the power to make life-changing impact on anyone you meet in a day – would you accept that opportunity – even if you never learned what the impact was?
Consider this: if you had the choice to save a life today, would you?
You have the chance to make that impact every, single day. You have quite a few daylight hours with many interactions. Consider the possibilities of your influence.
Start with yourself. What are your gifts? If you don’t know, start asking your friends. Share your observations of their gifts. That is a terrific way to start.
Get the book Strengthsfindersk by Tom Rath, and do the assessment that is included. Better yet, engage a few close friends to do it with you and then discuss what you have learned about yourself.
Next, ask yourself what would make your abilities in those areas grow? Stick with the things that give you pleasure.
Finally, realize it starts with each one of us making the decision to make a positive impact. Are you ready?