The Courage to Encourage!

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In a hospital room, between two patients one had a bed next to the window and one was on the side.

One-day, the man on the other side asked, “What can you see outside the window?” The man next to the window described children playing with small boats in a pond.”

Thereafter each day the man would wait eagerly each day to listen to the beautiful scenes outside the window. The man next to the window would describe a garden or a parade of colorful people dancing on the streets.

Suddenly one day the man next to the window silently died in his sleep. His friend felt deep pain. He asked a nurse to shift him to the bed next to the window. He looked out the window. The only thing he could see was a black concrete wall.

Amazed, he asked the nurse that how the other man managed to see and describe such beautiful things to him when they are not there.

The nurse replied that the man was blind. Tears rolled down his cheeks and he thought of the wonderful gift his friend had given him in his days of pain.

Can you guess what gift it could be? Was something similar ever given to you by anyone? Have you ever given such a gift to anyone?

Was it the gift of friendship, or the gift of care? Was it the gift of will power or the gift of benevolence?

To me it was the gift of ENCOURAGEMENT wrapped with all these strings. All these emotions stand on the pedestals of encouragement in some form or other.

Friends encourage us to fight our way forward.

Our loved ones give us the medicine of encouragement to stand forth, and it’s probably the best way to show we care. The plant of will power can nourish further with the fodder of encouragement.

So many times in life we feel unworthy, we feel the world shattering around us. The road ahead is like a thorny bed of roses. We feel we can never rise.

Then, I always look for a friend within me. If I don’t find him there, I look around. And there I find him standing far away, I take a step forward and he takes two. Suddenly I stumble but he helps me before I fall.

He is encouragement. He comes as a friend, as parents, sometimes even as a stranger.

Sometimes he is a melodious song, a motivational poem, sometimes even a movie or the simplest of things. Sometimes he comes like the lonely night or the fresh breath of breeze or the first leaf on a barren tree.

And, sometimes he comes dressed like you. Every time I stand up this podium to deliver a speech, I don’t know whether I will do my best, I don’t know whether people will applaud, I don’t know what will happen if I fail but I know at the end of it, there will be some of you waiting to pat on my back, giving me feedback and showing me the path ahead. I recognize my encouragement. He just smiles.

And leaves through the door, I want to stop him, he says, someone else needs me too. But someone else needs you too. Be me for someone else and you will always find me beside you.

My friend is in all of us but we never want to let him out. Somehow we lack that courage to encourage. And the people who this courage, are true friends, true teachers and perhaps true leaders.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Correction does much but encouragement does more.” While correction is our judge, encouragement is our coach, our friend. While correction is knowing our faults and flaws, encouragement is knowing the path ahead and the feeling that we can conquer it.

Today we all work in teams, today we feel we have failed more than ever before, today we feel we can trust nobody, today we feel the person next to you might be conspiring against us. But we fail to realize that we are probably doing the same for others. We are no different. But we need to change, we need to wipe off such feelings and prosper as an individual and holistically as a team.

Here at Toastmasters we are a team too where Together Everybody Achieves More. A quote from Jim Stovall rightly exemplifies it, “You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”

We may not have the greatness of the gift that the blind man had left for his friend, but we have the mantra to encourage anybody, anybody including ourselves through I-A-A.

I stand for the Interest in what others are doing, the empathy towards them. When someone is preparing a speech, there will be people who will always want to help, ask you questions- what have you thought of, what are you doing, how will you do it, when will you do it? This I is not about I but it’s about you.

A stand for applauding one’s efforts, after a speech, there will be people who will not laugh at you even if you stammer, will praise you even if you do a bad job, they will praise you from the bottom of their hearts not because you did a good job, but simply because you did that effort to do a job.

And finally the A to acknowledge, both the good and the bad. They will be there to send out a mail or two, stop you in the corridor and congratulate you or even scold you to bring out your best.

They all are encouragement masqueraded as you. And I regretfully admit that I am not one of them. Remember Munnabhai, when he was the first to give jadoo ki jappi, say thank you to that sweeper who had been working there for years but the dean, J. Asthana didn’t even know his name.

I feel if I had been Munna a long time back, I would not have lost so many things I did by being J. Asthana. I feel now it’s too late.

But I have learnt in Toastmasters that it’s never to late to start. Let us promise together today that our courage to encourage will help anyone who needs it.

When the bud of encouragement will bloom, we will also bloom as a true friend, a true teammate, a true leader and perhaps a true inspiration.

So, why not take this encouragement out, outside this Toastmasters room and share it with everybody around us. To our friends, our teammates, our managers or even strangers who are seeking help.

Take interest in what others are doing, help them do it, applaud them from your heart and acknowledge their efforts. Because, what Al Pacino said to his team in the movie Any Given Sunday before a match, “You gotta look at the guy next to you, look in his eyes. You are going to see a guy who will go all the way with you, You are going to see a guy who will sacrifice himself for his team because he knows when it comes down to you, you are gonna do the same thing for him. And that’s a team.”

Friends, now you can decide how you want to help, how you want to encourage and how you want to inspire.

I am sure what you read is nothing new, but think again do you that courage to encourage?

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