I didn’t notice clues right away. But I did start to notice one specific thing that made me curious.
I worked in a school at the time. I was writing a resource book for parents who didn’t know how to find help for their kids with learning differences. I was not teaching, but as in all private schools, you have other responsibilities.
It was the second year I was there and I noticed that the new kids who came in with body language that was a bit defensive, started to bloom around the third week of school.
They started making eye contact when before they avoided it, they smiled more they said hello in the hallways. It was real transformation.
I became curious about what actually caused that and identified it as the culture of true encouragement which infused the entire school.
The clues kept coming, even when I left, I noticed how much it meant to go one step further in appreciating people, in listening deeper, in being more thoughtful.
I kept noticing the effects and they were truly gratifying for both the giver and the receiver.
This doesn’t always mean you’re going to interpret the clues accurately. You have to be willing to fail, be misread, be judged and most of all, step out of the old zone of comfort to try on different ways of doing things.
A good example of clues appearing again and again happened to my good friend Miriam Hughes.
Miriam is a warm, big-hearted Renaissance Woman. She is a happy person, an amazing art teacher and artist. She loves dogs, inspiring people and art – not necessarily in that order.
Miriam was desperately unhappy living outside of Philadelphia. It just seemed that nothing was right.
She wanted to spend her time making art, loving her dogs, and helping others.
The clues came as resistance. She boarded dogs and her clients would say they were coming back on a certain date, then call her an ask for an extension. This created chaos in her schedule and she began to hate everything about her life.
This was the exact time when the recession hit hardest. She decided to move forward anyway and sell her house and her business. She was determined to move to the North Carolina mountains. Her realtor was skeptical but listed it and worked hard to get buyers to it.
Miriam has lived in Hendersonville, NC for almost ten years now. She teaches art at local colleges, does commissions, displays her work in galleries and walks her dogs every day in the mountains. For her doggies, it’s a dog’s life! Oh, by the way, she loves her life now.
The clues were there – repeating over and over, telling her to get out and do the things she loved, in spite of the resistance.
It’s risky to take that kind of leap. It seems like it’s to fraught with danger both physical and financial. But there she is. She listened to the clues and found her feet. She decided that it was actually riskier to stay safe but unhappy and filled with regret.
She hasn’t been back since she moved. She is an amazing study in encouragement.
If you find yourself wanting encouragement or wanting to read more about it, try to identify the things that are calling you. It’s easy to say what you don’t like but it’s much harder to acknowledge the things that you do well and are calling to a higher level.