Everything rises and falls on leadership. The impact leaders can have on the people they love and the teams they lead is immeasurable. At the Global Leadership Summit I had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest leaders in the world.
I was quickly and profoundly reminded why leadership is an essential key to changing the course and trajectory of the world we live in.
What is the best age of life? I was pondering this question because my niece turned 18 this week. What a great time of life—exciting new opportunities and challenges await.
So, was 18 the best age of your life? You might not call it the best, but most of us were filled with great hope about the future and had ambition to match.
As I walked up, I could see she was fighting back tears. A well of emotion rising up after hearing a message of encouragement. “I can’t remember the last time I felt truly encouraged—thank you,” she said. She wasn’t alone—not today or any day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Our chief want in life is to find someone who will make us do what we can.” Life is breathed into the “can” we can do by the right person, with the right word, at the right moment, delivering an essential truth in a loving and gracious way.
Encouragement is a simple word with powerful potential. Encouragement improves relationships and raises performance. Encouragement is the coming along side of someone and instilling in them the courage to act when they are stuck.
Two good friends sit down to have lunch and start talking about their work. One of the men expresses concern that his boss never encourages him and maybe he should look for another job. He asks his friend what he thinks he should do.
The context of a great question can sometimes elicit a simple response. I asked my friend, “What time is it?” My friend quickly looked at his watch and responded with the time of day. I smiled and replied, “Not what is the time of day, but what is your time in life?” Leo Tolstoy said, “There is only one time that is important–now! It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power over.”
My question was really curiosity about the direction of his hope and ambition. Kyle Idleman in his book Not a Fan tells a story about a young girl who was killed in a car accident. Brittany was only 17 years old when she died. Shortly before the accident, Brittany had opened a checking account. When her father went to the bank to close the account he noticed she had only written one check—Compassion International to sponsor a child.
Who will cross your path today? Some will be the people you know the best and love the most—you’ll create some of these intersections, other will seem random. Every personal interaction presents you with an opportunity for impact. Knowing why praise is not encouragement is the key.
Does it surprise you to learn that that you will meet between 80,000 and 100,000 people over the course of your lifetime? You’ll be in the presence of millions more. Let’s create a quick visual of the size of this opportunity. Picture yourself sitting in the The Rose Bowl filled to capacity. Now wrap your head around the knowledge that you are going to have a face-to-face interaction with everyone sitting in that stadium over the course of your life—amazing opportunities for impact.
Words are powerful. What we say and how we say it can make a powerful impact on the people we love and lead—even on the people we may only experience in a passing moment.
Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and author of The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Zander says, “The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.”
The encouragement really struck home last week. As I read some email and comments, it confirmed how we truly thirst for encouragement and how we look past the pain and struggle people are experiencing every day.
I loved the feedback. Don’t we all love a word of praise? Any word of praise is always welcomed. It makes us feel good, accepted and appreciated. But unfortunately praise is a lot like desert—it is a temporary feel good choice that can be harmful in the long-run.
We want it! In fact we thirst for it. It is as important as the air we breath—it is oxygen for the soul. But most of us have a persistent deficiency of encouragement in our lives.
The root of encouragement is “courage”—infusing the belief and strength that helps someone take the next step in a difficult race. Encouragement breaths life into the hopeless and gives strength to the helpless.
As Father’s Day approaches, I slow down a bit—pause, look around and reflect on what it means to be a father and the importance of running the race of fatherhood with courage, conviction and commitment.
I have come to appreciate a popular adage, “Being a father is easy, but being a dad is hard.” The impact of a dad in the life of a child has long been recognized.