One of my first full length talks in front of a large scale audience was about encouragement. I was amazed at how quickly the crowd picked up on the subject, and started to put encouragement into practice – something that in return drew the best out of me for my talk. It’s weird to describe what happens when you accept encouragement, but it’s pretty easy to measure what consistent encouragement can do to you. Encouragement can seem like a lofty, fluffy word used primarily for people in dire straits and in need of a pick me up – but the truth is that encouragement can set the tone and create an environment for any dream, career and idea to flourish.
In a day and age where social media and the internet can give a platform to anyone within a few seconds at the click of a button, it’s important that we expose our lives to valid feedback, and the right kind of environment. Simple declarations or analysis from an unwanted source can shatter progress, and leave you further behind than you planned. A culture that encourages the best, and speaks to potential – will always create opportunity. Here are 3 simple tips to make sure your life breeds a culture of encouragement:
Your idea is bold, maybe even before its time. Perhaps your last few projects haven’t been great successes, but you want to venture out one more time. Whatever your situation, someone’s encouragement can create a trust factor that you can confide and respond to. Encouragement gives us an avenue to build rapport with the people around us at a deeper level than surface conversation. Leadership often begins with a title, but encouragement can go a long way in moving people past the “position” of a leader – to actual belief in the leader. This often starts with putting a positive spin on simple comments we generally make – showing appreciation for what someone has done, and telling them that you would love to see more.
2. Encouragement pushes the limits
One of the most memorable moments in my life happened years ago, when I was playing competitive football. We had two very talented individuals at the same position. The backup at the time, was called at the last second to replace the incumbent at the position for an important game. Instead of moping on the bench, I saw the former starter go out, give tips during breaks, and cheer on the new starter as hard as he could. The result? A huge win for our team, a standout game for the new starter and a lasting friendship between the two teammates. It would have been quite easy, and maybe even understandable for the former starter to have been bitter – but he chose to be better, to encourage his teammate and believe the best. I’ve seen encouragement time and time again give the extra 10% that helps push people into the “bonus” in life. No one likes to be a negative Nelly (no offence to the Nellys out there).
3. Encouragement doesn’t always start at the top
Leadership guru John Maxwell has stated many times, that you don’t actually have to hold a title to lead. Leading from the middle occurs when someone decides to change the environment or culture they are in, and starts to encourage their peers, and those above them. Encouragement, and positivity in general, tends to be very infections and spreads rapidly, and rubs off on peers quite quickly. Creating a culture of encouragement is something you can do regardless of position or title, and will have a lasting effect on the people around you. Create a culture of encouragement, and you have created a winning, successful environment.
Practical tip? Find someone in your life pursuing a dream of theirs, and encourage them on the journey.