Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Power of Encouragement

The other Saturday I was driving from Harrison’s Under 13 school soccer match to Jack’s Under 8 club soccer match. This season I had agreed to coach Jack’s team which has been an interesting experience for me. Any way in the 20 minute trip I had broken the news to Jack that it was his turn to be goal keeper. Now Jack is scared of getting hurt by the ball and previous turns as goalie have ended badly for the team and his parents.
Jack earnestly pleaded his case not to be goalie but I knew it was his turn and as I was the coach I promised to help him through this traumatic experience. Right up to kick off Jack was still apprehensive and I did my best assure him he would be fine and that I would be there to help him. Now in under 8’s the coach can be on the field so I was able to encourage him while standing with him as he did his stint as goalie. By half time no goals had been scored and he had actually saved 2 goals.
By training the following Wednesday Jack’s confidence was so high he wanted to be keeper at practice and wanting to keep in the next game as well. What had changed?

I don’t know but I did learn that encouragement mixed with physical support is a powerful tool.

Now I am not talking about unnatural encouragement. You know telling some one they will be a scientist when they fail science, that you will be a good electrician when they are colour blind. No, I am talking about when you know they are capable but lack self belief. It’s encouragement beyond just saying words; that has action with it. I’ll stand with you, watch you, and get you some help.

Raising kids or work mates is more than words. It is about putting self belief into their life. It’s about fostering a ‘you can do it attitude’ and saying that I will see it through with you.

My favourite Bible story is about Mark. Paul says that Mark is useless to him and tells him to go away. Latter we read Paul at the end of his life calls for Mark as he believes he is useful to Paul’s work. What caused the change? Barnabus. Barnabus known as a great encourager takes hold of Mark from the scrap heap because he could see something in him and with some encouragement could make Mark fulfil his potential.

This week at soccer I learnt what it is like to be Barnabus to my son Jack and I have since seen what it has done to him. Imagine what would happen in your work place, congregation, and home or your sporting team if you have a Barnabus person in its midst. How different would your office be or your church, sporting team or home. How much more successful would it be and importantly how many more Marks or Jacks would be encouraged to achieve something they thought was impossible.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Creating margin in our work and private life

One of my recent disciplines is to get back in the habit of scheduling reading time. It is a two hour block of reading books that will stimulate me as a leader, as a person, as a contributor to other people’s lives. I am not talking about reading newspapers or magazines but books that will shape my work and personal life.

The first book I have started this new discipline with is called Margin by Richard A Swenson. Richard is a GP and describes margin as the space that exists between ourselves and our limits. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.

In my blog space I will be from time to time reviewing or commenting on aspects from the books I am reading. They aren’t complete reviews more a pile of thoughts for people like you to ponder.

I read Margin not from a situation where I had lost the margin in my life but having seen it disappear in those around me I wanted understand its importance to us as functioning human beings. Swenson is a GP in the USA, a Christian and has written this book out of his observations of patients across all spheres of life and vocations.

He exposes some of the common myths that life was easier back in the old days. If only we live today the way our grandparents did. Swenson argues that life wasn’t easier then just different. He says we just choose to remember the good bits.

The thing I found interesting that eating away the margin in our lives is growth or what he better describes at progress. Swenson says that growth in this world is now exponential not linear. So before people saw growth over a longer period of time which gave them time to adapt their lifestyle; now with exponential progress people are racing to keep up. This exponential progress erodes the margin in our lives without us realising it.

While we cant physically halt this exponential progress we can take steps to keep some margin in our lives and protect ourselves physically, emotionally, financially and importantly give ourselves some time to live not merely exist.

It is a great read for all sorts of people. Not just those who are struggling and need a prescription for change but for those who want to prevent it happening to themselves and those around them.

Margin by Richard A Swenson M.D. Published by NavPress.