In an exercise I did in a recent evening class I was leading, I got everyone to practice ‘blowing life on each other’s dreams’ with a ‘dream buddy’. It was so simple; in partners we shared a big dream with each other. The rules were that you were to sit opposite knee to knee and look into your partners eyes and listen to their dream. Then you were to say a simple affirmation that went something like this: I think your dream is a brilliant idea, I totally believe in you to make that happen, you have the skills and what you need to go for that! Also partners were allowed to say specifically what they saw in the person which they felt would enable them to achieve, live or be the dream they expressed. Whilst saying this affirmation you sat knee to knee and looked your partner directly in the eyes.
You cannot imagine what this seemingly simple and quite contrived exercise achieved! The whole atmosphere in the room shifted. People really received their encouragements. It literally brought so much life on amazing ideas, dreams and innovation sitting there in each person. All this life was relatively latent and dormant until we actually started to enquire what was there and simply listen and affirm.
I participated in this exercise as we had an uneven number and had the joy of having something I shared, which is a kind of work goal/dream affirmed. It literally bought me new energy and excitement about continuing to pursue this.
Now I am an encouraging person and I believe passionately in always encouraging others. I believe if we can’t say something encouraging then its best to not speak at all. (Of course I understand sometimes we have to confront and say when we see someone veering off onto a potentially damaging path. But even in this circumstance you can encourage by explaining how this path is not congruent with whom they really are and they true God given destiny.)
So I’ve been thinking what could it look like if everyone became a radical encourager? What would it do to each of our potentials? How would it help us to have the courage to live out some of the crazy dreams and ideas we have? Ultimately what would the positive impact be on the world at large?
What would the results be if everyone committed to affirming those around them, no matter what they felt or thought? What would happen if we stopped offering our opinion, warnings or doubts and started believing in each other’s capacities to change the world?
From the results of doing this for some years with many clients I can tell you it works. A combination of lots of coaching techniques and an abundance of encouragement has enabled many of my clients to go onto to do things they would have said were impossible prior to being coached.
So can you imagine living in a culture of encouragement? How would it affect you? What fears would it enable you to overcome? What dreams would you be released to pursue? I have experienced living in a culture of encouragement in a very special place I lived for several years in California. Also in the coaching community I linked up to in becoming a life coach. Once you have experienced this you realize how counter-cultural it is to what we consider the ‘norm’.
Think about the country you live in now. What is the usual response to people who express big dreams and ideas? In England typical responses to enthusiasm, passion and impossible sounding dreams are: ‘calm down love’, ‘you’re a bit over the top’, ‘well let’s just see what happens’, ‘let’s not get ahead of ourselves’, ‘have you considered all the risks?’, ‘it sounds very risky’… I could go on.
What would happen to your country, your family and your life if what was said was: ‘Wow, that’s a fantastic idea’, ‘you could do that!’, ‘I see that in you’, ‘give it a go!’, ‘I believe in you’, ‘it sounds like what your made to do’, ‘you are a visionary’, ‘if you can see it you can achieve it’, ‘great what could you do next to get it started?’.
Hmmm, does that sound radical? So, what can you do to experience the power of encouragement for yourself and those around you? It’s simple; I did this some years ago. I decided to become a great encourager. We reap what we sow. So, start by intentionally responding with encouraging statements and train yourself to make this the new normal. I challenge you to start by trying it for the next 3 days. Then watch and see the effect on others and what you get back in return. Be a culture changer!