How encouragement is like oxygen?

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the famous 19th-century poet and artist, was once approached by an elderly man. The old fellow had some sketches and drawings that he wanted Rossetti to look at and tell him if they were any good, or if they at least showed potential talent.

After the first few, Rossetti knew that they were worthless, showing not the least sign of artistic talent. But Rossetti was a kind man, and he told the elderly man as gently as possible that the pictures were without much value and showed little talent. He was sorry, but he could not lie to the man.

The elderly man was disappointed, yet expected Rossetti’s response. He then apologized for taking up Rossetti’s time, but would he just look at a few more drawings – these done by a young art student?

Rossetti looked over the second batch of sketches and immediately became enthusiastic over the talent they revealed. “These,” he said, “Oh, these are good. This young student has great talent. He should be given every help and encouragement in his career as an artist. He has a great future if he will work hard and stick to it.”

Rossetti could see that the old fellow was deeply moved. “Who is this fine young artist?” he asked. “Your son?”

“No,” said the old man sadly. “It is me – 40 years ago. If only I had heard your praise and encouragement then! For you see, I got discouraged and gave up – too soon.”

A mentor once said to me, Encouragement is oxygen to the soul. Everyone needs a little encouragement. Your boss, your coworker, your employee, family and friends. The question is do you invest more time into encouraging or discouraging?

Here are three ways to give encouragement and breathe life into others and the workplace…

  1. Encourage one another by valuing each other-Find the good in others. Don’t see people just as they are. See them as they can be. In the 1994 Super Bowl, running back Thurman Thomas, he had 3 fumbles that lead to a Dallas Cowboy’s Win and 4th super bowl loss in a row for the Buffalo Bills. At the end of the game. Sitting dejected, Dallas Cowboy’s running back Emmitt Smith out nowhere was in front of him with his God Daughter and said, honey, let me introduce you to the greatest running back in the NFL.
  2. Encourage others by being giving them room to grow– It’s easy to like the perfect employee. What about the employee who is growing into their role? A mentor once asked me, “Will you give me the opportunity to grow into the role as your leader?” A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success
  3. Encourage others by serving them-Nothing like holding out your hand to lift someone up vs. tearing them down. Nothing like taking the time out of your day to serve someone else. Never be too busy to serve someone. People don’t always want plaques and presents. They also want your presence.

Sam Walton said, “Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise and encouragement. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”

Equip, Educate, Empower, and Encourage others to become better leaders!

Tony Jalan

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