We often have opportunities to use our energy to encourage and inspire others. I find many of us stepping out on limbs to follow dreams and passions cultivated by inspiration. Whether it be from ourselves or from close friends and family, it isn’t always easy to stay the course of the journey. You encounter many twists, turns, and detours along the way. Having some cheering and encouragement may be one of the biggest things that helps us to continue to move forward.
When I left the medical field to start my first business, I was often met by doubt, fear, and worry from others. I was certainly aware of the risks and didn’t have all the answers. I felt I had to dig deep into my passion to drown out many naysayers. I can also say that you have enough of your own doubts and worries when you take leaps of faith. I find that most of us have bigger battles within ourselves. We certainly don’t need extra layers of doubt and negativity applied by others.
It took me time and experience to look back and realize when people offer fears, worries, and negative feedback, it really is driven by their own insecurities. It can help to keep your circle small. Consult and confide in people that are helpful and encouraging. There really is a line between helpful advice and discouragement. Form your own support group of go-to people to bounce your ideas off of when you need to.
I find often that people aren’t always aware that they are not offering helpful advice. We can get into fearful habits of thinking which spill over into the advice we offer others. For example, there have been times I’ve shared ideas or plans with someone and all they offered in return was a list of problems they could find or ways it could go wrong. Without any encouraging advice to add to that, they may be a negative sounding board you don’t need at that time. I know often these folks mean well, but they are also expressing from their own fears.
When we are stepping into unknown territory, we may need to choose the people we bring into our counsel more carefully. It helps to find others who have been successful in that area. Often they know what it feels like to step out and need courage. They can be great mentors and counsellors. A friend or colleague who is strong in his or her own confidence can be a great cheerleader to help us through.
I’m not saying there will not be times when you need constructive feedback and help to steer down bumpy roads, but we can also choose supportive and more suitable counsel.
And not only that; when a friend or colleague shares their ideas and dreams with us, we can take the opportunity to encourage them along the way. When someone shares their ideas, hunches, and dreams, it often comes from a vulnerable place. Having the courage to speak your dreams isn’t always easy.
Rather than being quick to judge or find fault in their idea, we can step back and encourage their inspiration. You may not understand it to begin with because it’s not your dream. We often get in the habit of giving what we may think is practical and reasonable advice. However, what may be practical and reasonable for you may not be helpful to them. We can first give them the space to express their ideas and listen attentively with an open mind. You may not think their plan is a good idea, but as a friend you may be more helpful to keep that to yourself.
Years ago I spent about 5 years counseling people in my community in how to manage their small businesses. What I learned more often than not is that no matter what kind of help or advice they were needing on any subject, they first and foremost needed support and encouragement through the steps. As long as I could offer some support and reassurance, they could better handle the challenges they were facing.
We all need encouragement. Our inspirations need safe spaces to germinate and a positive environment to come to fruition. In these endeavors that feel scary or big, it can be very helpful to be selective in who you invite to your table. When the time comes to make announcements and share with the world, you can come from a more prepared and confident place. Not only do we need this support, we certainly can be better encouragers to others.