Have you ever considered how important it is to be encouraging? Do you consider yourself to be a leader? Whether you know it or not, whether you are 10 or 100, you are a leader. Because you influence others. Perhaps you are in a management position at a company, leading a team. Or, the owner of a small business. Or perhaps you have kids, parents, siblings. Friends. Whether you realize it or not, you have influence, and because of that, you are a leader. We all are, to some degree.
I have 2 golden retrievers ages 6 and 10 with very different personalities. “Bear,” the younger one, seems to care only about retrieving and eating, in that order. “Simba” has a broader worldview, loves the beach, and the discovery of new scents each morning. He doesn’t care much for retrieving, rather he seems to see it as a boring obligation to his breed. I walk them daily, and on our longer walks I can tell when they start to get tired. Simba especially gets tired but keeps trying because he loves his walks. When I notice the fatigue though, all I need to do is say “Good Dogs!” or something to that effect, with a genuine positive tone – and something cool happens. They perk up, and they walk a little faster. I can literally feel the energy. And as a result I perk up too, and walk a little faster. For a time, the 3 of us have a little more energy, maybe even a little more “courage.” We just create it. Nature reveals another lesson.
I realized what I’m doing when I say that to my dogs – is more than just praise. It’s encouragement. And this cute experience with my dogs gave me with the insight to write this post. Encouragement is important. Critical really. And like so many other good things, it’s free and unlimited. We just have to choose to use it. It’s important because it’s about courage. But it’s more too – it’s about giving someone else courage.
To me anyway, courage means the absence of fear. It’s root is the Latin word “cor” which means “heart.”
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”
It takes courage to do that. Courage means just doing, just acting on our intentions and not thinking our way out of our good intentions. I think courage is an every day type thing. It can be mundane – making that phone call, sending the letter, doing the run, making the effort, starting the project. It doesn’t need to be “heroic” – but it can be. To be courageous is to step through the fear and just do it. Courage is really important to success and contentment. Happiness too, can spring from courage. Courage is a choice. And it can become a habit. We all yearn to be courageous. And we all need to be.
Too many leaders fail to encourage. They keep encouragement to themselves as if it’s a precious gem. They fail to understand that encouragement comes from an unlimited well. Then they fail as leaders and wonder why. Given the importance of courage, we as leaders need to encourage others. En – Courage. Tell a friend they can do it. Tell the kids you’re teaching or coaching that they can do this. Tell your kids that you notice when they are trying hard. Encourage them to keep doing it. Tell a colleague they can get it done. Tell your friend, spouse, partner in some way shape or form that you’ve “got their back.”
Let your encouragement know no bounds. When you see an example of courage – when you see that heavy out of shape stranger jogging, when you see the kid in a wheelchair, or the old man struggling to walk – dammit say to them “good work!,” “you can do it,” “don’t give up.” Give ‘em a thumbs up, a wink, an acknowledgement. Clap your hands. And it’ll come back to you too. Remember too, to encourage yourself.
So, who are you going to encourage today?
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this . . . I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt