The purpose of encouragement is to give courage. Encouragement is not just a pep talk, or a pat on the back, or making someone feel good. It’s about giving courage – one of the highest and most powerful forms of positive influence.
Giving courage can produce life-changing breakthroughs! Imagine the possibilities! Suppose you could help your employees find the courage they need to:
- Step out of their comfort zone.
- Tell the truth that needs to be told when it needs to be told.
- Believe in themselves more.
- Believe in their purpose more.
- Become more self-sufficient.
- Accept responsibility for their mistakes.
- Be less defensive.
- Embrace change.
- Do what it takes to improve enough to jump over the hurdles that are holding them back.
- Help a coworker improve even when that coworker is competing with them.
- Take on a challenge that scares them.
- Get back up after they’ve been knocked down.
Suppose you could provide the kind of influence that would encourage people to face those kinds of challenges head-on – embrace them – be grateful for them – be excited about them – be determined to conquer them. And suppose you could show them how to encourage each other that same way? You would treasure that accomplishment for as you live, and the people you impacted that way would treasure you for as long as they live.
I used the words “imagine” and “suppose.” But in a culture of positive influence, it’s the real thing! People can draw a lot of courage from their leaders, especially when the leader’s goal is to bring out the best in them.
The strongest single factor for giving them courage is believing in them. Next comes believing in the shared purpose you have with them. If the people you lead know that you believe in them and in the purpose you are pursuing together, and if they know exactly why you have those beliefs, you are already giving them two powerful sources of courage that they can draw on continuously.
Another way we can help them grow in courage is by leading them to expand their comfort zones. There’s a chicken and egg issue here. It takes courage to step out of our comfort zone. But when we do, our comfort zone grows. When our comfort zone grows, our courage grows, and when our courage grows, we want to expand our comfort zone even more. It’s a wonderful cycle that builds its own momentum.
Sometimes the first step in this cycle is to expand our comfort zone as an act of will more than as an act of courage. Sometimes we just don’t feel as though we have the courage to expand our comfort zone. As the leader you explain to them why they have to. And that’s where it becomes an act of will.
Why do we have to expand our comfort zone? Why can’t we just be satisfied with our comfort zone the way it is? Because it doesn’t work that way. Our comfort zone doesn’t stay the same size. The natural dynamic of a comfort zone is that it either grows or shrinks. And that’s why it’s so important to keep expanding our comfort zone – because if we don’t, it will shrink. It’s like a muscle – if we don’t use it, it gets weaker. We have to keep trying to make the muscle stronger in order to keep it from getting weaker. We have to keep our comfort zone growing in order to keep it from shrinking.
When our comfort zone shrinks, our courage shrinks. So pushing people out of their comfort zone – and teaching them to push themselves out of their comfort zone – is a vital part of encouragement.
As a leader, you want a team culture where everyone is asking, “What can I do to expand my comfort zone today?...What part of my comfort zone needs to grow in order to unleash my performance and increase my courage?”