Many 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!