I was distraught. I sat the bench most of that 8th grade year. I had high hopes for my basketball career. I made the team, I earned the spot, I practiced, I worked hard, but I didn’t play. My dreams were gone. I didn’t enjoy basketball anymore. I was embarrassed. I wanted to quit, but couldn’t bring myself to it.
At the end of the season, my coach came up to me and said something like this: “Russ, I know you didn’t get to play much this year, but you will play. You’re a good basketball player, you’ve worked hard. Next year you’ll get to play.”
That was all I needed to hear. I worked hard in the off-season, I started that following year, and continued to play for this coach all the way through high school. His encouragement was just what I needed to keep trying, to keep moving forward.
Simple words of encouragement are so important, yet we often don’t take the time to say them, we don’t go out of our way, we forget the power of positive words.
Gary Ray shares about five reasons why encouragement is so important.
How are you doing with these five?
#1) Words have the power to motivate or tear down. We talked about this earlier. Sometimes our words hurt or damage relationships when they aren’t used correctly.
#2) Timing is everything in giving recognition. Encourage on the spot, in the moment. Don’t put it off. It will lose its potential impact.
#3) People usually leave a boss before they leave an organization. “Recognition usually indicates a real value for the employee.” Are you showing appreciation?
#4) We tend to invest in what we feel is important. Are you investing in your staff? Are you helping them become better leaders? Do you care about their future?
#5) Great leaders don’t wait. Don’t wait until annual evaluations or Christmas Cards to affirm your team for a job well done. Do this daily. Do it publicly. Do it often.
As the leader, you have an opportunity to create an environment where encouragement is freely given and received. You don’t have to fake it. Find people doing things right and well and acknowledge them for it.
Ray asks this question: “Can you think of a time when encouraging words change the course of your career?”
We underestimate the value and importance of encouragement.
For more on ENCOURAGEMENT