When I drove Mandy Evans back to the airport, she asked me an interesting question:
“Have you always encouraged people?”
She had spent four days with me and observed me encouraging complete strangers to go for their dreams.
There was an author at a booth and I bought his book and advised him on how to market it.
There was a waitress struggling to get to all her tables and I tipped her more than the bill to encourage her to have a great day.
There was the newbie restaurant owners that I encouraged by designing and distributing an insert ad to tell the locals about their great food.
There was of course Diane Watson, who is now The Property Hugger.
So Mandy wanted to know if I was always encouraging of others.
“No,” I instantly replied. “When I was younger I was angry at the world and didn’t encourage anybody. I was into survival and focused on trying to write, get published, and just generally survive.”
I knew what question was coming next, and I knew I didn’t have a quick answer for it.
“Then when did you start encouraging people?”
I thought for a long time. I honestly couldn’t come up with an answer by the time I dropped off Mandy at the terminal.
But I’ve been chewing on it ever since.
I told Nerissa about the question. As I free associated an answer, she said she heard the word “love” used a lot.
“Love is part of why I do it,” I said. “I love seeing a person come alive with the passion they secretly want to express. But I also know that when you love a person with total acceptance, they feel free to become whatever they desire.”
But I still couldn’t pin-point the time when I began to do this encouraging on a regular basis.
Pat O’Bryan and I had dinner one night and I told him the above story. He then began to probe, trying to get me to narrow down the year and possibly the event that caused me to become encouraging of others.
“I remember reading books that awakened me to the idea that if we focus on the good, we’ll get more good,” I explained.
Marva Collins is a school teacher in Chicago who taught me, through the stories and books by and about her, that when you focus on the positive in a person, and nurtured and encouraged them, they would blossom.
Marva took inner city kids that were considered retarded, special, and/or illiterate and transformed them within months into kids who read Shakespeare and tested at grade levels five times higher than kids of the same age.
Decades ago I was teaching adult education classes in Houston for a company called Leisure Learning. I would try the Marva Collins approach in my classes. I marvelled to see people get excited, take action, and go on to write and publish their own books. They needed encouraged, not just informed.
Pat listened intently as I went on to explain that I also studied Win Wenger, the creativity genius who teaches people how to raise their IQ with simple exercises he created.
Whatever you focus on will expand.
“It didn’t take long for me to begin using these methods on myself,” I told Pat. “I’d encourage myself and focus on what I wanted. As it worked for me, I realized it would work for others. So I started encouraging people.”
I was also lucky enough to have been married to a woman who was supportive of every idea I came up with, even when we were broke and taking risks could have been seen as a bad move. But Marian focused on the good in me, saw potential, and watered it with her love.
Over time it became easier to encourage people because it felt good, I saw results, and people loved it. So few of us get support that when we suddenly have it, we drink it up like a starving person in the desert.
I’ve taught my Miracles Coaches this same general idea. It’s the prime directive of my life: Find the spark in a person and encourage it to come out in full glory.
Find the spark in a person and encourage it to come out in full glory.
During the meal, the waitress came to Pat and I and asked what we needed. Neither of us needed a thing. We were in the moment. We were happy. But I decided to ask what she needed.
“Nothing,” she said. “One day I want to open my own restaurant but right now I’m just waiting tables.”
Pat and I exchanged glances and he winked. He knew this was my opening. I turned to the waitress and began to encourage her to do something, anything, to make her dream come true.
I have no idea if she’ll actually do anything, but she smiled big and thanked me for the encouragement.
In your own case, as you sit there and read these words, you might ask who is encouraging you and who are you encouraging?
Who are you encouraging?
If you want encouragement, consider my Miracles Coaching program. There’s nothing like constant support and encouragement to achieve your goals and intentions.
If you want to encourage others, begin right now. Listen, really listen, when people talk to you. You’ll often hear their secret wish. When you hear it, focus on it, if only for a moment.
It’s how dreams come true.
PS — I thank Mandy for asking her great question. I still don’t know exactly when I started to encourage people, but I’d guess around 1982. Yet Mandy’s question led to some deep self-reflection, some deep conversations, and to this blog post. If you liked it, please share it with others. Who knows, you just might encourage someone to dare something worthy.
Note: Pat O’Bryan interviewed me about this topic last night for his weekly online TV show. It was recorded and you can view it at www.portableempire.tv/ Simply look for the 6-17-08 show with me. Then click on it. Enjoy.