Every one of us has more power than we realise. With just a few words, you can build or destroy someone else’s dream. Be an encourager, not a destroyer, of dreams.
We tend to pull the brakes on another person’s lofty ambitions. Almost without thinking, we warn that “it won’t work” or ask “are you sure you want to do this?” Be an encourager instead. When someone is willing to take the first step on the long journey to success, get out of the way and give them permission to try.
Why you need to be an encourager
1. Most people are insecure
Even the most confident and self-assured person has some self-doubt. Arrogant and boastful of people behave that way precisely because they have a strong need for the approval of self and others.
We don’t reveal our vulnerability in public. It shows its face in the privacy of the bedroom or bathroom, and we will never know how many tears have wet a person’s pillow in the dark of night because of disappointment and doubt.
2. Handle with care
Sometimes we treat our luggage better than we treat other people. We paste “Fragile” and “Handle With Care” stickers all over our bags. And yet people are the more precious cargo.
If you have ever collected luggage that was damaged on arrival, you will know how painful it is. We should feel the same pain at seeing someone else’s self-confidence being shattered by thoughtless words.
3. Cherish dreams
There are many who have forgotten how to dream big. The cares of life, burdens of family, demands of work, and myriad pressures have weighed them down. They trudge through life, barely able to wake up in the morning, looking forward to nothing, and go to bed with no sense of a day well-lived.
Yet among us are a few who still dare to dream. They have a vision of the future, an ideal to strive for, a reason to wake up in the morning. When you come across these precious few, cherish them. Cherish them because they are rare, and because they have made themselves vulnerable by putting their hearts on the line.
4. Protect and defend
I love the story of the boy from a poor family who had to submit his dream as a homework assignment. He submitted a blueprint for a 60-acre ranch, including a mansion and a row of stables. The teacher gave him an F because the plan was ‘unrealistic’. She also promised to give him a passing grade if he would re-submit a plan more suited to his family’s level of income. The boy gave this reply: “You can keep your F, and I’ll keep my dream.”
This boy is now a man, and his 60-acre Circle A Ranch is opened to young people who want to learn about self-esteem and self-motivation. His teacher has also been to visit. I’ll say it again – I love this story.
Not everyone has the guts of that little boy. You’ll never know whose dream you helped protect when they themselves wanted to give up. It takes so little from you, just a “keep going” or “you can do it”. Yet it could mean so much to them and to the countless others who will gain by their efforts.
Be an encourager whenever you can
Why do good sports teams have cheerleaders and a fan club? Even the best of us need encouragement. Talent is important, but the support of others pushes us to try harder, and bring out the talent that would otherwise remain latent.
You can decide that from today onwards, you will be a one-person cheerleading team. Whenever you see someone making an effort, offer a word or two to give him a boost. Cheer at the slightest sign of progress. Scream, shout and yell; or smile, nod and give a quiet thumbs up. Do whatever you are comfortable with. The actual words and actions don’t really matter. The other person will understand.
And if you cannot bring yourself to be an encourager, then at least get out of the way. Don’t be the obstacle in someone else’s path. Stand clear, and let them go where they will.
PS: A big Thank You
This post was partly inspired by all the visitors who left encouraging comments on this blog. All are people I have never met, yet they made the effort to encourage a month-old blog newbie writing at her desk late at night wondering if anyone will read what she writes. I am deeply humbled and gratified by this kindness of strangers.