Learning to be a Mega-Encourager

Yes, each of us has a choice: to criticise or encourage, to focus on criticism or focus on encouragement.

Personally, I’ve learned to listen much more to those who encourage me. Criticism has far more impact (up to 10 times) than encouragement as we seem programmed to be far more sensitive to threat and danger. And critics are two-a-penny, probably because it takes so little thought to be one.

So take up the challenge of mega-encouragement.  Ask yourself: does this person need more judgement or more courage? It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it!

Someone noticed.
Someone noticed.

The most powerful comments you can make, negative and positive, lock into these three categories: PERSONAL, PERVASIVE and PERMANENT.

PERSONAL:  It is about THEM.  Make your encouragement very personal. Generalised encouragement is fine “Well done, everyone!” but personal is so much stronger: a handwritten card of congratulations, a phone call to express you appreciation. And use their NAME, not words like ‘my friend’, ‘mate’, etc. The most precious word a person hears is their name.

PERVASIVE: It goes beyond their current situation into every part of their life. Notice several areas of their life where an attribute is gaining strength. “I love your commitment to living with integrity” [pervasive] is much better than “At least you accept that you’ve messed up here.”[local]

PERMANENT: “You’ve always cared for others and you always will.  That doesn’t change because you forgot to make that appointment.”

So do yourself, your friends, and the world in general a favour by moving your whole  philosophy of life a step towards the Encouragement Platform, and make your input personal, pervasive and permanent. After all, a person like you who reads this for into a blog already has a head start in making this a regular part of their life.  😉

Here are some practical encouragers – even when you disagree with what a person has done, you can help them change by using these phrases:

“Keep going! Someone who is as sensitive/determined/committed as you [personal] will always [permanent] get there in the end.”

“You’re great.  I know you [personal]  – you’ll find a way through anything [pervasive] eventually – it’s in your nature [permanent].”

“I love your unique [personal] determined attitude.  You’re the sort of person who can’t help but improve [permanent] – whatever you put your hand to [pervasive] – even when you make mistakes. I really like that.”

“How is it you’ve come as far as you have?! The fact you’ve come this far only goes to prove you’re a strong person underneath [personal]. You’ll make it through to your goals.”

“You’re a fast learner [non-specific, therefore pervasive], and don’t need anyone to tell you when you’ve messed up, least of all me. I’ve messed up myself too many times to lecture anyone else.”

Personally I’m a better person for having a impromptu funeral service for my mistakes – as soon as possible after they become evident. I mourn their passing and look back months later on what they taught me in the short time they were alive. I don’t need anyone to dig up their remains.  For really significant catastrophes, when I have messed up big time, I want people to help me leave the graveyard, recover from the overdose of human error and live life with courage again, so I tend to surround myself with such people and keep the others further out.  (People who invest a lot in each day, as I tend to do, are the very first people to know just how big the impending disaster is going to be. They don’t need ANYONE else to tell them!)

Endorsement, approval, kindness, and encouragement.  Spew tons of those powerful motivators into the world and I’ll be MUCH more useful to those around me when they come my way!

So will you.

Who will I be?

Late in 1990 I experienced ‘burn out’, and made some decisions about being free from the tyranny of living my life to fulfil other people’s expectations.  (Some of them were really nice ‘other people’ too.) Here goes…

Who will I be?

The quiet and submissive heart
That, pressed by peers, will play the part
Selected for him by the common vote
Of those who stand, observe
And solemnly take note
Then gently urge him to conform
To fit the role
For which he’s not
been born?

Who will I be?

The one who scorns the social mould
And flirts with glorious liberty,
Whose heart, determined, wild and warm,
Laughs in the face of those
Who quietly continue to perform
And turning from the narrow stage
At last possesses that
For which he knows he’s born.

That’s who I’ll be.

I’ve now had nearly 20 years of freedom from ‘the narrow stage’ – though sometimes I’m tempted onto it for a while, allowing my life to become a bit of a performance. Not to be recommended.


Success Part 3: Better.

Google says there are 51,100,000 references to ‘motivation’ on the web. So what motivates the writing of so many words by so many ‘experts’? Here is my ‘expert’ opinion: people are crying out for a clear sense of personal purpose, their song. Max, song writer.I started to live a much better life when I allowed that song to be created inside me and find its tune. I finally put it into readable words in the five years between 1997 and 2002.

Since then I’ve not been one of the ‘mass of men who live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them’ as Henry David Thoreau put it.  I’ve written my song, the song I love to sing, the song that generously satisfies my desire for meaning. It is a song with verses about the deepest parts of my life, about my relationship with the Creator and his creation, about my relationship with my family, about my relationship with my friends, and in a rather bizarre way, with you and your friends too.

It is a song that I sing on happy days and on sad days, on muddy days when it is tough and on bright days when the cloudless sky invites me to play in the sunshine, a song for when I cry in private and when I laugh in public. It is a song that gets me out of bed in the morning, a song uniquely mine, yet a song that links me to many millions who may be singing similar words to a completely different tune, or no tune at all.

Of the millions of pages on motivation comparatively few of them get personal about the writer’s own motivation. They tell you how to be motivated, and how to motivate others:  “The Six Rules of Motivation” (rules!), “Motivation 123”, “100 Ways to Motivate Yourself” (a hundred!), “Seven Secrets of Motivation.”  Can you believe it, but there are even books on how many lies have been told about motivation!  “Words, words, words,” announced Eliza Dolittle, “I’m sick of words. Show me!”

Thankfully there are some people who lay their personal cards on the table, and in just a few moments I’m going to be one of them. Until then here is my three-word solution to those struggling with motivation today:

WRITE YOUR SONG.

And for the record, here’s mine.

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