on encouragement

I’ve been thinking the last few days, since a conversation I had at the weekend, about encouragement.

I overheard a situation where someone in a role up front leading had come home to his wife feeling disappointed with his performance because of a few mistakes he made. Meanwhile, other people who had been there at the time were discussing amongst themselves how much they’d enjoyed and appreciated this persons contribution.

It got me to wondering how often this happens. How often is a person left feeling inadequate, dissatisfied and lacking confidence in their abilities because the praise and encouragement just hasn’t reached their ears?

When we remember to think of it, we know that people who are struggling, learning, beginning need encouragement. If we have employees or juniors we hopefully encourage them in the work to reach new goals. If we see someone going through a situation we’ve already been through (new mother, learning a new language, moving to a new country) we find it easier to offer encouragement.

But I was reminded on Sunday that I should also remember to encourage those in positions of authority and leadership – those who maybe seem to have it all together, to have mastered their skill or role.

I’ve needed so much encouragement in the moments where I’ve been obviously struggling, clearly flawed, seeking the right path and patiently honing skills into something offerable (I think I just made that word up but it’s a good one). But I still need encouragement when it looks like everything is going well, when I seem to be completely in control and confident. Because underneath the improved skills and the amassed experience is someone still hoping they will get it right this time, and knowing that they are far from perfect yet.

My goal this week is to remember to offer encouragement as often as I am able to, and not just to those in situations I have mastered or made it through, but even to those in higher positions, because we’re all human, and we all need to reminded that we have something of value to offer.