Encouragement Matters

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“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

I had an unanticipated visit from one of my nephews the past four days. He’s a beautifully grounded 22-year-old college senior. In one of our many conversations it became apparent that he is struggling with who he knows he is and where he sees himself heading versus what his parents want for him. Sound familiar?

I know of few people who don’t welcome and appreciate encouragement; even the most confident and accomplished. Encouragement for good matters, particularly in a world of overly opinionated, overly stimulated people. We are often quick to debate matters, but we need to be just as agile to encourage.

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Encouragement applies everywhere. We can find it in people who are:

  • seeking employment
  • questioning their faith
  • searching for love
  • dealing with family matters
  • lost
  • unwell
  • lacking confidence
  • personally challenged
  • depressed
  • venturing anew
  • daring themselves
  • beaten down

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It’s hard to find fleeting thoughts of encouragement as you watch what is going on in the world today, never mind within our own sphere of influence. If you’re like many people, you rarely hear praise about the things you do well. Positive observations are huge and learning to focus on the positive and giving people genuine feedback, strengthens relationships in ways you may have not imaged.

Discouragement often demoralizes. However, favorable words and actions embolden! If you are inspired to share your heart and talents, these three actions may be worth your time and consideration… and be equally well received:

  1. Praise ordinary accomplishments. Look for the little things that most people take for granted. Make it personal. Look the other person in the eye, pause, and share your words with real meaning.
  2. Ask for advice or confide in someone. This is akin to flattery. You know how you feel when others ask for your advice or confide in you about something personal and important to them. It can be uplifting! Didn’t that action make you want to help and do what you could to ensure their belief in you is well founded?
  3. Show appreciation. Watch for the slightest improvement in someone. Be specific. Tell the person exactly what it is that you appreciate about her or him. Is it their compassion, work ethic, the way they treat others? Maybe it’s someone’s weight loss, organization skills, or willingness to take on a challenging task.

With my nephew, I simply promised to listen and support as he explores and pursues his passions. I sense he appreciated that encouragement.

Do you know someone who can use your encouragement, now?

62 thoughts on “Encouragement Matters

  1. Happy Holidays, Eric! I would like to praise ordinary accomplishments starting here with you, but unfortunately your accomplishments ain’t ordinary! Keep up the wonderful work in 2015!

    • You are most kind, Bruce. Thank you. We;ll have to see how much longer I generate these posts. 2015 looks to be yielding a different direction — perhaps for many of us! I hope your Christmas was enjoyable.

  2. Very well said, my friend. Your nephew is lucky to have you as an understanding and encouraging uncle. I’ll be taking your advice, especially in the days ahead. Merry Christmas to you and your family! πŸ™‚

  3. I tend to listen to the problem at hand and then say what I would do where my kids are concerned. I find they are more open to that approach than if I tell them what they “should” do. True about praise too-there’s no such thing as too much as long as it’s sincere.

    • In many cases, Allen, I believe your approach serves all parties well. And yes! Cliche encouragement is often simple and impersonal. When delivered with sincerity, it carries so much more. Here’s to less “should’s.”

    • As a species, I often see how we default to easily criticizing and judging. If we’d simply invoke a conscious mind-set shift, we could just as easily observe and encourage others. Thanks for the uncle ‘nod.’ He needs all the encouragement I can share right now. πŸ™‚

  4. Eric bravo for this post. It definitely resonates with who I try to be. I think you could make this into a poster and everyone should read it daily. When someone chooses a different path they often need our support , not our objections.

    • A poster. Yikes. Sue is encouraging my post to turn commercial. πŸ™‚ Kidding aside, thank you for your thoughtful suggestion. Even if a handful of people take the message to heart, the post will have made a contribution. And that would be good for all of us! Bravo on your trying to be this person.

  5. Indeed, we must make a point of praising at least one little (if not big) thing in those around us and to family the simple “I love you” every day is just so reassuring and encouraging. A wonderful post, Eric, things to put into NY resolution list if they’re not on it already. Hope 2015 is amazingly wonderful to you.

    • Yes, Ina! If we simply create a conscious intention around ‘I will encourage someone today’ we can evolve it into an unconscious habit. And I wholeheartedly agree, a simple “I love you” every day will surely make someone else’s day. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your warming comment.

  6. Another great post Eric. So many in our world hear no words of encouragement.
    Thank you for this, and for sharing those 3 actions. Well worth putting on the refrigerator for a constant reminder.
    Thank you for the encouragement you are to your fellow bloggers. πŸ™‚
    have a great Christmas.
    ~Carl~

    • Sue (above) suggested I share this message in a poster. And now you are see it fit for refrigerator posting. The two of you might be on to something. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your comment, Carl. It encourages me to continue sharing messages that matter. Wonder filled wishes for you and yours in the coming new year.

  7. Eric.. You always within your posts bring encouragement.. to look at the world a little differently and to see ourselves in a new light.. Oh to have had you as an Uncle some years back to bring wisdom into my world.. πŸ™‚ But then I guess the Universe didnt do too bad a job on a Dreamer.. πŸ™‚

    I hope to encourage my Granddaughter as she grows .. The listening ear is what matters the most..
    I thank you dear Eric for your kind responses and our interaction throughout our Blogging year.. May the Christmas Spirit Bless you and yours and may you have continued good health and Happiness in 2015..
    Blessings sent your way..
    Sue πŸ™‚

    • You are most kind, Sue. Thank you for your uplifting thoughts. And I’m inclined to agree that the Universe didn’t do a bad job. πŸ™‚ I am sure your granddaughter will benefit from and appreciate the guidance and wisdom you choose to share with her. And yes, so much is about our listening. It is a pleasure to interact with you in our blogging community. Warm wishes returned for your health and happiness in the coming new year. Peace!

  8. “Positive observations”- I really like that phrase, Eric. Such a small, simple thing, yet it can be transformative. Such observations can change the life of another. Sometimes all someone needs is another person noticing what they do well. Another great posting, Eric.

    • There are times when we don’t immediately see the transformative power in small, simple things. When, in hindsight, we do — it can be both clear and reinforcing. Here’s to our noticing and encouraging others when they do well, Kim, even in the tiniest ways. πŸ™‚

  9. This is a great post Eric, both for information on the receiving end as well as on the giving end. It all makes so much sense. But, as we both know, common sense is not always common practice.

    At a time of year when a lot of people are focused on big dreams, goals and ambitions for the new year, a little dose of courage to nudge them along is exactly what’s needed. Thanks for the great post and best wishes for an inspired new year!

    • Common sense isn’t common practice? Dang, all along I thought… πŸ™‚ To your comment, even those who don’t have clarity about their intentions – now or in the coming year, can benefit from encouragement. Acknowledging small can be as inspiring as big accomplishments. Wishing you warmth and good health in the coming year, Dave!

  10. Another wise post, Eric. Thank you. I was having blood drawn the other day and the nurse seemed harried and in need of a deep breath or two. When she stuck the needle in my arm, I mentioned how she’s very good at her job. She stopped, took that deep breath, and smiled.

    Happy Holidays! πŸ™‚

  11. Excellent Eric! I do know someone who needs some encouragement and you’ve reminded me to attend to something I almost forgot to do!

    You’re nephew is very blessed to have the presence and ear of an older man in his life.

    Happy Holidays!
    Debra

    • Acknowledgement as yours, Debra, make my day. I am glad to learn that the post served to remind you. I suspect the individual who receives/received your encouragement was appreciative. And this older man reveled in a 22 year-old’s invitation to listen and share thoughts. His openness made my day, too! Enjoy the season and all that the new year will bestow.

  12. When we are seen, heard and encouraged by another who listened and was present, we have been given a great gift. How wonderful for your nephew that you could offer that to him. Merry Christmas to you…and to him. What a powerful gift. πŸ™‚

    • Gifts! I love giving them. And if sharing time with my nephew was his gift, I reveled in the moment and experience, Carrie. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your Christmas wishes. I trust and hope yours was blessed and peaceful.

  13. Eric, your article is very encouraging. So well written! I like what you write about how we need to be agile to encourage. Agility requires practice, mindfulness, discipline, stretching . . . many other great qualities that contribute well to the lives of others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on encouragement!

    • I honestly hadn’t thought about the breadth/depth of the word agility. Thank you for expanding on it as each of what you reference is indeed, core to our being and supporting others. Your comment is kind and I appreciate your creating time to read and proffer truly poignant thoughts.

  14. How cool it must have been to have your nephew stop by and have such a talk ~ it is a great gift you have of being able to be someone people (especially family) can come to and get a great ear along with solid advice. I remember starting out, and having a group of people with whom we would bounce ideas, dreams and thoughts of ‘the next step’ around all providing the support you mention at the end of your post. Sometimes, though, reaching outside of such a group is important ~ so kudos to you and your nephew.

    This post also has me thinking that as we age, we become a bit more conservative, so it is more difficult to find such ‘connections’ to seek & find encouragement… But fortunately, your blog does this quite well πŸ™‚

    • Not long ago, I belonged to a Mastermind group of 100+ entrepreneurs. It was an amazing collective consciousness with mentors and experience galore. Not surprisingly though, it was a very different source of support. I liken and align that cohort to/with material and professional success. What I learned from time and conversation with my nephew was, as I suspect you know, a vastly different ‘connection.’ One more synonymous with significance.

      It was a meaningful, cross-generational exchange, something that serves understanding and that encourages listening and appreciation. I wouldn’t trade such interaction(s) for near anything. Thanks for ‘getting it’ and adding your valuable insights.

  15. I am actually one of those fools who don’t take much encourage. I don’t know. Maybe I really am too much of a free will person. I’m not much of an adviser as well. When people confide in me, I do listen. I think I always answer with looking at the brighter side of life or having balance.

  16. Interesting that you chose the word “fool,” Rommel. Each of us, yourself included, has unique skills and traits that serve us well. I sense you are a genuine listener and your optimism always comes through in your posts and comments. So, perhaps, you need little encouragement. That suggests you may be confident and grounded in who you are and the choices you make. Here’s to your continued balance and an encouraging πŸ™‚ new year!

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