I was intrigued when she handed me a business card containing the word "encourager" as her title. In a world full of negativity, her job title stood out to me like an oasis in the desert. Her journey to encouragement began fifty years earlier, when a kind-hearted little girl offered Karen the most valuable commodity - friendship and encouragement.
What is Encouragement?
To encourage means to notice, find value, appreciate, and care for the needs of others. Leaders must encourage others to inspire greatness because encouragement is like breathe to our soul. In our fast-paced and ultra-competitive world can forget to see the needs of other people. We can intentionally or unintentionally alienate colleagues, annihilate the competition, and dehumanize others to meet the bottom line. Is our need to get ahead distracting us from encouraging others?
One Small Action
Encouraging others may be uncomfortable, unnatural, or overwhelming; however, it can be as simple as a kind gesture or action. I recently came across a great illustration in a video of a teacher who encouraged a student to finish a race. The student, named Matt, has significant physical challenges which make running tough; however, he wanted to run a 400-meter race (or one lap around the track). At one point in the race, Matt was overcome with fatigue and discouragement, but his teacher quickly reacted and inspired an entire school.
The number one job of a leader is to encourage others to reach the impossible. Great leaders and organizations inspire greatness in others. Encouragement is the currency used to achieve the impossible.
One action, one kind word, one note, one smile, or one text can breathe encouragement and inspiration into another person's life. When was the last time you encouraged another person? When was the last time that you offered a kind word, note, or email? Take a moment to encourage another person today. You never know how powerful your words or actions will be.
Encouraging others is something that I need to work on. In order to challenge myself, I decided to take a page out of Karen's book and created personalized postcards from Vistaprint. I am using the cards as a tool to inspire and encourage others.