The Encouraging Word: A Dying Art
The Sunday Session #2 - Read Time: 2 Minutes
Life is hard but a life spent trying to move with an upward trajectory is even harder.
Improvement requires discipline, perseverance and patience coupled with an attitude that values long term progress over short time gratification - the traits that we rightly revere and place on a pedestal in modern society.
We all innately know this - Parents, for example, spend their time supporting, praising, and encouraging their children to move closer to excellence.
The Power of The Encouraging Word
When a child is learning to walk, each attempt to take a step, is met with praise for the attempt and encouragement to go again. The child, unbeknownst to her, is developing a ‘Win or Learn’ attitude in a safe and supportive environment. The results, unsurprisingly, tend to be hugely positive and skill acquisition exponentially accelerates.
Teachers know this all too well. They spend their careers, helping students become the best version of themselves through providing learning experiences, extra-curricular events, and pastoral knowledge which not only challenge students but extend their abilities. Each step of the way is scaffolded with encouraging words complimented with clear, immediate, and concrete feedback loops to ensure optimal development.
When does The Encouraging Word Stop?
In the post school years, something surprising happens - the encouraging words begin to fade as responsibilities and obligations mount.
People fall away from the things they loved - participation in sport, music, and the arts nose dives - and the movement closer to excellence plateaus. Worse yet, no one even enquires about why they have made these decisions.
Life for many becomes, work, recover, sleep, and go again. If the work environment is devoid of a culture imbued with the wonder of endless potential, life for many becomes static, stale, and stagnant.
Why Does This Happen?
In the busyness of life, we forget that people, even those over 25, are still people. They thrive in supportive environments, surrounded by people they share reciprocal relationships with.
We tend to look around us and assume everyone else has it all together and fail to recognise that those we look up too may be just as stuck, unsure, and lost as we are.
Thirdly, in the rat race that is life, we have lost the skill to truly slow down and listen to those we care about. Instead, we tend to rhyme off possible solutions to any issues instead of listening deeply, engaging encouragingly and formulating a clear, concise action-based plan to move forward.
What is the Solution?
The solution is simple! You hold the power to positively change the lives of many of those you encounter this week. If the opportunity arises to encourage someone to become better, seize the opportunity and watch the ripple effect of your support begin. In the words of Don Miguel Ruiz, ‘be impeccable with your word’.
You may not understand the gravity and impact that these small actions will have on the lives of others.
On a personal note, I remember coming out of a tough open water swim at Oxford Island, speaking to my coach and friend about my concerns about my first upcoming open water race. He ended our conversation before jumping into the cars to head home with ‘You don’t believe in yourself enough’.
Like a bolt from the blue, any concerns I had dissipated. The Encouraging Word had fortified my readiness to compete.
Instead of pushing the narrative of ‘you are enough’, The Encouraging Word forced me to finish the sentence -
‘You are enough, but you have the potential to be so much more’.
The Great Sir Alex Ferguson, highlights the importance of The Encouraging Word promulgating:
'The two most important words in football are well done’
Have a great week,
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