The ‘courage’ of encouragement


You may not believe this, but I have never run a marathon. Yes, that’s right… not one.  However, I have always been fascinated by the crowds that do run.  I guess I am even more fascinated by the crowds that line these events.  Large marathon events often draw thousands of fans that line the 26+ mile route the cheer on the participants.  When you see the interviews or comments of participants after the race, you often hear them comment that they reached a point part-way through the race when they thought they couldn’t go on, but the crowds of encouragers cheered them on and they received a burst of energy that held them to the end.

Have you ever stopped to understand why encouragement is important? When you look at the root of this word, you see the word ‘courage’ right in the middle of it.  Normally, you think of courage as that intestinal ingredient that spurs us onward in the face of great opposition.  You think of the Lion in the Wizard of Oz that asks the wizard to award him with courage to help him be the King of the Jungle.  Courage is that element that gives us boldness, strength to face an adversary, and exceptional ability to overcome long odds.  So, when you encourage someone, you are essentially giving them courage to keep going… to stay the course… to keep doing more than they think they can… hold their head high…   When you encourage someone, you give them strength to endure… to finish the race… to overcome their hurts and obstacles.  Encouragement is the only thing, at times, that keeps one going or allows one to keep putting one step in front of another.

I truly appreciate encouragement. And, it seems it comes at just the right time.  I have a hand-written note from an anonymous individual that I keep on my desk.  It is a note of encouragement that I remove from the envelope at least once a month and read.  When I am feeling particularly challenged, that little note helps me get through the fog.  And, when I am encouraged, it motivates me to encourage others.  That’s how it works.  When someone else takes the time and effort to encourage you, you naturally want to go encourage someone else.  It is contagious.

So, today, please consider how you can ‘give courage’ to someone else by encouraging them. You never know when a positive word from you can make the difference to another.  And, you should never assume that someone doesn’t need encouragement.  Everyone needs to be encouraged sometime!  So, think about how you might help someone else run the last half of their own marathon.  Think of someone that might be on the verge of quitting, or someone that is discouraged, or just someone that has made a difference to you and give them a pat on the back (or a note or call or email or personal visit or that overdue thanks).  You might never know how much it is needed or appreciated.

Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place. Let’s go have one of those “best days yet!”


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