Don't believe the hype! I can't be anything I want to be; I will not be winning any Olympic gold medals in gymnastics. However, with the help of Coach Sommers at Gymnastic Bodies @gymnasticbodies or the team at Sports Fitness Advisor, I have a chance at making some seemingly incredible gymnastic moves given the time and effort. A coach goes a long way to bring specific encouragement, but what does it look like for those that we live with, work with, or bump into each day in the line for coffee?
This goes deeper than encouraging your buddy to down the entire Solo cup in one gulp. Encouragement is in short supply, and it is needed now more than ever. The FaceBook craze of tagging a friend to do 22 days of pushups to bring awareness to the loss of 22 veterans a day due to suicide is a recent indicator of the epidemic.
Do you count yourself among those strong silent types that are not much for words? Expecting your kids to be at your bedside to hear your last words and the first time they hear "I love you, and I'm proud of you," may be a losing bet. You are going to get a bigger bang for the buck telling them now and being conscious of hearing their "thank-you."
Effective encouragement is specific. Telling a co-worker the pitch went "great" leaves plenty of encouragement left on the table. Telling her, "the preparation paid off, the customer fully understood all the elements of the pitch and as a result of her effort, they filed a purchase order," is far more memorable and meaningful than just hearing "great."
Warning, grasping this concept is like learning that Santa Claus is not real. When you receive a weak encouragement, it doesn't resonate, but when a specific encouragement is delivered, and it received as intended, it will provide courage for the future and help those encouraged to soar. What happened this week, where you can provide specific encouragement?
Going Further: Who gives specific encouragement to you? How have you experienced the difference between general and specific encouragement? What kind of encouragement do you provide? What can you change to start providing specific encouragement? What observations do you have about encouragement?