How to Be an Extreme Encourager - Christine Kane

flygirl.jpgMany years ago, when I first shared my dream of being a songwriter with one of my best friends, she knitted her brows and said, “Huh?”

I can’t say I was deflated by all of the warnings and doubts that followed. After all, I had always been surrounded by this kind of “practical thinking.”  I don’t think I expected anything different. In fact, I probably shared my dream with her just so she’d talk me out of it.

During this fumbling stumbling path that was my life at the time, I met a man who became an unlikely best friend and mentor.  He was a brilliant jazz musician, a recovered addict, and he could do pretty much anything on the computer.  He wrote code and was developing some esoteric software that would eventually land him a huge position in Cupertino.

One night, after he performed at a local jazz club, we were walking towards my car.  I told him my dream of being a songwriter.  Without even blinking, he said, “Honey (he always called me Honey), you’d be a fabulous songwriter. That’s perfect!”  And he meant it.

I can’t fully express what happened inside my body at that moment. It was like falling into a very soft clean bed.  My heart settled down and became a peaceful and safe haven.  I had never experienced such direct and truthful encouragement without a single “practical” warning attached to it.  This friend set me free by offering one simple thing: Encouragement.

Fast forward many years and successes and failures later. I’m surrounded by encouragers.   I’m sure there are doubters around.   But they simply don’t register anymore.  Also, I have become an extreme encourager myself.

Whether someone is feeling hopeless after they’ve failed at a new venture, or scared to go in a new direction, or listening to the voices of doom and gloom, or even celebrating an exciting success – encouragement, with its many facets, is a mindset and a behavior that fascinates me. I still drink it up and revel in it. And I love it when I’m called to shower it upon other people.

I’ve observed extreme encouragers. I’ve heard  stories of people who made huge leaps in their lives all because of one person who encouraged them.  I’ve also recognized some traits that extreme encouragers have in common.  Here they are:

An extreme encourager lives by example

The best encouragers I know are the ones who live it. Whether they’re just beginning to wake up to their own power, or they’re veteran risk-taking creativity-living wild-women – the encouragers are usually the ones who want a bigger life for themselves and are willing to “go there.”   This is why my jazz musician friend could simply offer encouragement when my other friend could not.

•  An extreme encourager actively listens

Encouragers know that being encouraging doesn’t mean you just tell people to “buck up” or “get over it.” They know how to truly listen to someone.  This means looking at them, listening to them, setting agendas and judgments aside, and honoring the speaker as a wise soul.

•  An extreme encourager avoids clichés

Avoiding clichés is actually a result of actively listening to someone. Being an extreme encourager doesn’t mean that you blindly tell people “you can do it!” or “Just let go of those fears!” It’s deeper than that. It’s seeing the truth of the other person, especially when they cannot.

•  An extreme encourager acknowledges the hooglie-booglies, but doesn’t focus on them

We all have the hooglie-booglies. These are the voices that tell us we can’t or we shouldn’t or we’ll fail or we’ll look stupid. An encourager doesn’t focus on those voices because she knows they they’re trying to hook her.  An encourager simply acknowledges that the voices are there and that you can’t make them go away by arguing with them or focusing on them. An encourager knows that those voices aren’t the truth. They only SEEM like the truth. She knows her job is to see beyond the voices.

•  An extreme encourager remembers that no one knows what’s best for anyone else

An encourager knows that we are all wise and that sometimes we make choices that might not seem so wise. An extreme encourager calls out our deepest desires and then helps us see the thoughts and fears that hold us back.

•  An extreme encourager accepts miracles, grace and mystery as the deeper truth.

Extreme encouragers are often mystics of sorts.  They know that the so-called “woo-woo” stuff is more real than the so-called “logical” stuff.  They celebrate the divine as a simple fact of everyday existence and don’t get caught up in the “prove it” mindset.

•  An extreme encourager knows that you can develop the needed character traits as you go

In other words, an extreme encourager knows that you’re ready now, even if you’re not yet perfect! 🙂 I shudder when I read advice that discourages people from trying something because of character traits “required” in advance. “You shouldn’t blog if you’re not disciplined.” “If you don’t have focus, you can’t be a writer.” Most of the successful people I know developed these traits as they went.  I certainly did.  For instance, I wasn’t disciplined or focused or good at the business side of music.  I developed those things along the way.  I still work at this stuff daily!  Encouragers understand the huge potential for growth in each human, especially when someone begins to follow her own heart and soul.

———————-

I am so grateful to the people who encourage me in my life. And I’m grateful to be able to pass it on to others – either my friends, or to women in my retreats or people in my e-Seminar.  Who has given you the encouragement you needed in your life? And do you pass it on now?

p.s.  I’m going to NYC to start recording my next CD this Friday. You can take part at BeMyRecordLabel.com!

29 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Mary Joy @ Snapshots from my Heart & Home

    Wow! This article fits perfectly with my blog’s new mission…empowering women to become “Intentional Encouragers” to their husbands, families, and circles of influence. I am going to link you article to my Blog’s Facebook page as a place to get ideas for encouraging and learning more about the importance of encouraging. I am actually in the second week of a Hebrews 10:24 Intentional Encourager Challenge with my blog. Thank you for reminding people how important it is to encourage one another!!!

    PS….my husband is my biggest encourager and my best friend. It makes such an incredible difference doesn’t it? 🙂

  • lisa

    YAY Christine!
    ‘preciate your gentle nudges, as always.

    when i began my biz i wrote my shero in my field. i explained that she was why i was now doing what i was doing. she wrote back and we’ve been connected since. she’s become my encourager, mentor, coach, therapist, confessor and friend. she shifted my life into a space i’d never imagined possible. YAY Jane of http://www.jstonecards.com/.
    i do my best to Pay Forward the gifts Jane offered me.
    YAY to all encouragers!

    ps. hope your NYC adventure is being rich and filling in MANY ways.

  • Christine Kane

    Thank you all for your AMAZING comments here. I’m thoroughly touched – and truly, they’ve helped me get through some little moments of doubt here in NYC as I record this next CD. I’m honored to know that this blog is inspiring you! 🙂

  • chris zydel

    Hi Christine,

    As always, I just love your posts and your powerful gift of language….. I get such a kick out of the way the term “extreme encourager” makes me feel. It makes me excited, and I feel bigger inside,like I have found more inner space and like nothing is too much to ask of life, or myself. Thank you for that wonderful boost.

    I also work with people by encouraging them to be their full creative selves, and am so aware of the power of extreme encouraging on people’s lives. And how difficult it can be sometimes, for folks to take that encouragement in because we are just so used to not getting it. That’s one of the reasons that I just love working with groups, because when someone is part of a circle and community of encouragement, miracles really do happen!!

    That is also one of the things that I really appreciate about what you have created here through all of your work. What I find when I visit your blog or your site is truly a culture of encouragement. A place that gives people the message that it is good and holy to expect to be valued and honored and treated well.

    Keep up all your invaluable work! You are an amazing fount of inspiration and wisdom and a splendid role model for how the combination of creativity and self love can lead to a fulfilling, authentic life.

    Warmly,
    Chris Zydel

  • Peggi Habets Studio

    Great post Christine. When I first decide do become a portrait painter, there were very few encouragers, much less extreme encouragers. I’ve since learn to tune out the discouragers and forge ahead. It’s not to say I don’t want or accept criticism, I do at times. My husband is my biggest encourager, but also can give me criticism in a way that is both enouraging and insightful. BTW, it is so true about the cliches. They do come out when people are not truly listening.

  • Mackie

    Great post! And thanks to Claire for pointing out something I never had been able to articulate…that as an encourager (I’m a great cheerleader for those I love!), I DO get pissed off when I do not receive the encouragement I need and want…and often focus more on the discouraging words I receive from some of those who I know love me. They just don’t see the big picture, do they? So thank you, Christine and Claire both! I will now focus on those who DO encourage me…and focus on being an encourager for myself too! (Give me an M….! 😉 )

  • Danny

    Christine, I have been blessed with a positive spirit that sees the best in those around me, and I love use it when I can, to bring people up. A few examples popped into my head, were friends have told me year later that something I said put them on their career path, or changed their life in other wonderful ways. I am invariably astounded that I could have made such a difference. Believing in someone and then watching them blossom (or learning about it years later)is SUCH A RUSH!

    Thanks for the encouragement to continue encouraging people!

  • claire

    I started to be an extreme encourager very young. I was about 15 when I told a good friend I believed in him. He went on to being a professional musician with major record label deals etc. I’ve also discovered the wonderful feeling when someone believes in me. I live with the principle that there’s not enough positivity in the world – share the good stuff with folks where you find it. It doesn’t always go down well – people think I’m insincere, probably because they’ve not experienced the sincerity before. And sometimes I get down because I don’t get much back; although that’s never my intent (I do believe in treating others as you’d like to be treated – this does have a negative side effect however, of getting pissed off if you’re not treated as well as you treat others – I’m working my way through this one.) So, no matter what, if you see someone you truly believe in, tell them, today!

  • Xfile

    hi christine
    yup – to “big up” is to fat encourage
    but also you can say “big up your chest”
    which as a woman i particularly like.
    xfile
    xxxx

  • Sheila

    AND, parenthetically, I always forget to close my damn parentheses!

  • Sheila

    Beautiful words from a beautiful heart. Just the words I needed. An hour ago I found out that my Dad was committed to an Adult Foster Home (private home assisted living). Although it is the right thing, the best thing, and expected, it broke my heart (he’s still my “Daddy” after all. Here I am 51, a Grandma, a “tough cookie” and in tears. Your post brought the right kind of tears… those we must cry before we heal. I read your blog always. Just wanted to say thank you. Thanks for encouraging me in a moment I thought it not possible.

    Hugs,
    Sheila

  • Diane

    Thanks Christine for your kind words of wisdom. Too funny about the Oprah coincidence! Just like you, I belive she is trying to make the world a better place. I am blessed to have a small circle of encouraging friends. This morning when I read it I immediately thought about family, and significant others…In the past I’ve always been the super empathetic, giving and caring one. I recently took the Martha Beck friendship test and it was most interesting! The last few years (getting older is wonderful)I’ve become much more selective with whom I spend my time with and the test confirmed my thoughts and actions.

  • chickpea

    Hey Christine,

    Good luck with the new CD.

    I love the idea of being of an extreme encourager all the time, but I find it hard to be sincere in this always. I’ll give you an example – recently a friend asked me my opinion of his singing voice as he wanted to know what I thought of his dream to be an opera singer. He is 40 years old and after hearing him, well, I found it kind of hard to discern vocal talent at least in conventional lyrical terms. What would be the best route to have taken? Encourage him regardless as it is all about process maybe?

    Wasn’t your happiness about the encouragement you got from your friend at least in part due to the fact that he was an accomplished musician himself so you could rate his opinion? Do you think it maybe wouldn’t have meant so much if he didn’t know so much about music?

  • Christine Kane

    Hi Diane – Thanks for your honesty in your comment! And just remember that the first place you want encouragement is from your closest circle of friends. When you’re an artist or when you put yourself out there in the world in any way, you take that form of “encouragement” a little differently. Keep in mind that I’ve had lots of bad reviews and negative stuff tossed at me as well. That’s why the inner circle of encouragers – who will always remind you of your INNER power no matter what is happening outside – are so important! And thank you SO much for mentioning my name with Oprah. How incredible. (And on a funny note… I once got a scathing review from a newspaper who compared my songs to episodes of Oprah. She didn’t mean it as a compliment. So there you have it!)

    barbv – oh, that’s so great that you say that about your husband. That’s SO huge. i love encouraging partners and spouses.

    thanks sue! I’m happy to be your encourager!

  • Sue

    I love the feeling in this post and your story about your friend! My encouragers include my childhood softball coach who made me find some inner physical strength I didn’t know I had, one of my brothers, my husband who sat me down years ago and told me not to waste any of my talent, a handful of awesome friends, and, well, you christine. You have to go on that list. I am blessed to have a ‘list’ of any sort. 🙂

  • BarbV

    My husband and I took a business risk a couple years back. Most everyone we knew at the time either discouraged it or didn’t say a thing. We talked alot about that and how we didn’t like that negative energy. Even though the venture didn’t turn out quite as we would have liked, the experience was rewarding and we have never regretted it. We also learned to put our energy into the relationships that “feed” us and not the ones that drag us down.
    And by the way, my husband is my extreme encourager. He is incredible.

  • Diane

    I usually always read the comments on your blog. I’ve often thought how great you must feel reading all the positive wonderful comments. I’ve even been envious because I haven’t had many encouragers along my way. I’d say you and Oprah are the most postive influences I currently have in my life. I always encourage my son and probably go a little overboard at times because I so want him to have what I didn’t have.

    Have a glorious time in NY…hope you can make time to go see a show!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks all! Wendi – my friend Joy said the same thing about her mom too! I love that! Mark – the big break people are very cool too, indeed. I’ve had my share of them – and it’s a stunning joy that arises in the heart!

  • m

    Laura go and see Mamma Mia ! NOW !

    You will come out singing and dancing – I promise !

  • Wendi Kelly

    My Mom is my encourager and I chose a best friend and husband that are too. I choose to surround myself with those people in my life. I wouldn’t have thought to use that term, but I love it. It’s my life’s passion to make a positive difference in people’s life and help them reach their dreams so I guess it’s my mission to be an Extreme Encourager!
    Ooooh! I feel so pumped up!!!

    And good luck with the record lable, signed up yesterday!

  • Mark

    Thanks Christine –

    I love encouraging people and pointing out their talent even when they don’t see it. I love your story about your mentor.

    My parents always, always, always encouraged my drawing talent, ever since I was 3. Still do. It’s made all the difference.

    Here’s a spin-off idea to your idea about people who encourage:

    People who give you a big break – the ones who take a chance on your talent and give a huge boost to your career. Those folks are rare indeed.

  • Laura

    Way to go, Christine! Your recording session is going to knock your socks off! Thanks for another great post. Hugs from Laura

    PS: On another subject, I saw the Batman movie with my son and hated it. It reminded me of another post you wrote about not seeing negative movies. You are so right about that; it took some time for me to shake off that down, low, dark feeling after seeing it (even though I had my eyes closed during half of it.)

  • Christine Kane

    bonnie – that’s great! I had a friend say the same thing when i was about to give up my job to go full-time as a musician. he said, “geez – you can go work at mcdonalds – and you’re so smart, you’ll end up as a manager in no time!”

    thanks pati!

    rhiannon – it was great to have you in the eSeminar! (there’s someone coming from norway to the november retreat. and someone coming from england to october and december. there’s always room for scotland! 🙂

    xfile (is “big up” like “word up?” pardon my uber un-hipness!) and thanks so much for your pre-order on the new CD!

  • Xfile

    Big up Christine
    Hope you have a blast in NYC
    just pre bought a digi download

    max respect and positive vibes from london
    xfile

  • Rhiannon

    Dear Christine,

    You really are an Extreme Encourager ! The E seminar really moved things along for me and I hope to make it over the pond to one of your retreats sometime soon.

    I love your current CD project and how you push the boundaries of “its always done this way” in your own creative projects too.

    With very best wishes,

    Rhiannon

  • pati

    Christine,

    Just reading your posts encourages me. Actually, reading your “title” encourages me before I even get into the post. You have a wonderful way of drawing people into the discussion, and into your thoughts. Thank you!

    P

  • Bonnie

    I always think back about ten years ago when I was recently unemployed and new to the city. I was scared and complaining to a friend about how impossible everything felt. She just said simply, “Oh, you’re so smart; you’ll get a job.”
    It everything right then to see myself as smart and capable in someone else’s eyes. I think of it every time I encourage someone and I love to hear a friends tell me, “you make me feel like I can do it.”