Free Encouragement

Mike Beckham

What encourages you the most?

I am passionate about a few things. One of my obsessions is college football. I went to school at the University of Oklahoma so that’s my team. I am the guy in my group of friends that knows all the different players, where they are from, and their blood type. Well, I don’t know the blood types of all the players, but you get the idea. Saturdays are kind of like a football buffet. I try to watch as many games as I possibly can. It’s especially fun to watch my team when something like this happen:

OU vs. Texas 2001

However, it’s a little bit less satisfying to watch a finish like this one:

OU vs. BSU 2007

I love watching football and I get a lot of enjoyment from it. Interestingly, I have noticed that what really makes my enjoyment of Oklahoma football complete is actually hearing other people (media, fans of other teams) compliment, affirm, and praise the accomplishments of my Sooners.Over time, I’ve realized that this isn’t isolated to just this one area of my life. It is a general truth about me that my enjoyment of everything is enhanced by the affirmation of others. I think the reason this is true is because naturally I deeply value the perspective of others. That’s why the thing that encourages me the most is when I receive positive affirmation and recognition from others.

I especially desire it when I have put a lot of myself into a leadership role, task, or project. Then, more than ever, the affirmation and praise of others leads to me being encouraged and excited about what I have done. I don’t think that this is vanity, but rather it is my natural tendency to judge things based on how others react to them.

There are some huge implications for leadership. I believe the most encouraging thing that we can do for those that we are leading is to verbally affirm and encourage them.

The best part is that it is so easy to do, isn’t time consuming, and costs nothing.

The worst part is that we still don’t do it nearly enough.

Jack Welch is famous for turning around the world’s biggest company – General Electric. 60 minutes did a special on him to highlight what he did that made such a difference and one of the main things he attributed it to was that he had time set aside in his schedule to write notes of encouragement and affirmation to employees.

Being able to affirm others is an important part of leadership in any organization, but it is also a huge part of just being an encouraging person to be around.

Here are some really practical ways to put this into action:

Deliberately look for things that others do well. Then be deliberate about encouraging and affirming them.

Believe the best in others. Focus on the things that they do well and not their shortcomings.

Be honest. By being genuine when you do give praise, your words will be much more meaningful.

Mike Beckham is an alum of the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma. As an undergraduate he earned a degree in finance. Currently he is a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ at OU. He also serves as the chapter counselor for Sig Ep.

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