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The Courage to Encourage

We all need encouragement, a little push, or a little reminder that we can do it (See Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could”). Knowing that someone believes in us enough to encourage us can be the motivating factor that keeps us going when we feel like quitting. I salute all the encouragers in the world, the people that cheer for others, the people that are fans of the underdog, the people that don’t give up on others because they can still see greatness in them.

I do however have a word of caution for the encouragers – be aware of the line between encouraging someone & enabling* them. It can be a fine line, a subtle line, and most importantly, it can be a moving line.

Here are some differences between encouraging & enabling:

Encouraging = Interdependent.
Enabling = Co-dependent.

Encouragement = You have to want it for yourself more than I do.
Enabling = I want it for you more than you want it for yourself.

Encouragement = I advise, but you decide (you own the decision).
Enabling = I advise AND I decide (I own the decision).

Encouragement = You face the consequences of your decisions.
Enabling = I protect you from the consequences of your decision.

As leaders of families, organizations & communities we must have the courage to cultivate a culture of encouragement. A culture of enabling will always destroy families, organizations, & communities.

*Enabling in this context refers to the process by which we contribute to the negative behaviors of others by failing to recognize a problem, set appropriate boundaries, establish expectations & enforce consequences.

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