It’s a pat on the back that makes you swell with pride. It’s an inner ray of sunshine that permeates your work. It’s a match that lights a fire under your ass.
Amazing what that one small act of kindness, even from a stranger, can do for you, your goals, your career.
Everyone seeks praise, approval, a “good job, you done good.” It’s nice to have a little support in one way or another. It’s also great to have a shoulder to lean on in moments of self-doubt as you’re wallowing away in self-pity. In fact, encouragement is needed the most at these moments, for it often jump-starts your car on the road to greatness, or at least offers a push in the right direction.
Ironically, it’s often at these moments of self-doubt and self-pity that encouragement is hard to come by. No one wants to be involved with such a downer. We’ve all got our own problems to deal with, right?
Let me paint a little picture of what it’s been like for me. Now, I’m no Stephen King or even a Beth Wiseman, but I am a writer; I’ve always been one. It’s who I am. My story goes a little something like this:
I started writing in high school, mostly poetry, but I thought I’d give journalism a try. I sent a letter, along with a resumé, to the editor of my small town newspaper, hoping to join the staff. He sent a rather harsh reply a few days later saying, “How do you expect to get a job at a newspaper if you can’t even use the dictionary to spell ‘resumé’ correctly?” I had spelled it “résumé.”
Now, what I should have done is sent a letter back telling the editor I did in fact use the dictionary, and spell check and Google, to see about the spelling of that word, that my dictionary had it spelled “résumé,” and that it is spelled correctly any which way you like depending on who you talk to, including without both acute accent marks. I should have told Mr. Editor to do his own research on the subject of that word. I most certainly would not have gotten the job, but at least I would have stood up for myself and kept on writing.
What does this story have to do with encouragement? Simply, its opposite is what stops us dead in our tracks–lack of encouragement and fear of rejection. I stopped trying to get published, practically stopped writing entirely, after this small town editor’s snooty come-back. Why? Because I was rejected.
It takes a lot of hard work and determination in this business to get ahead. Thankfully, I have found myself back on the road to publication. I simply followed my heart and started writing again. Next came a little luck; I stumbled across a writing contest at my college and entered it. Got second place in the fiction category. Not first place, but hey, I had finally gotten some recognition!
Following the contest, I went to a writer’s workshop and met Beth Wiseman who told me that I was “well on my way.” Oh, how those words keep me up at night, urging me onward, telling me to keep on writing.
And just today, a simple little “Like” on my blog added some fuel to my fire; an editor of an online magazine liked my post! I’m the little engine that could, and I’m gonna keep on chug-a-luggin.
It’s funny how things start to go your way once you pick yourself up by your bootstraps, dust yourself off, and start walking down the road you’ve always dreamed of. People notice. People start encouraging you more and more. People want to be a part of your dream, because, for some, that’s all they have.
A good friend once told me, “Don’t talk about it. Be about it.” I’m not sure where he got it, but it rings true. If you want to do something or be something, just do it. Dream big and follow through. It’s all about the follow-through. Don’t stop living your dream just because someone doesn’t like what you are doing. Tell them to suck an egg, and then, keep on truckin’.
So, I implore you. Why not stop ripping on other people’s hopes and dreams and apply that same dedication to what you want out of life? I’m not just talking about being downright rude to people’s faces; I mean stop gossiping behind other people’s backs and go on a live your own life the way you see fit. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Try a little encouragement. Practice makes perfect. Go on, you can do it.
I believe in you.