"When Nike says, just do it, that's a message of empowerment. Why aren't the rest of us speaking to young people in a voice of inspiration?" — Naomi Klein
Positive people are resilient people, and the most resilient people are those who develop high value relationships. If you or someone you know needs more positivity then take action today by starting a conversation with me.
As a conference speaker, workshop facilitator, and one-to-one coach my favorite part of the job is encouraging others to step out of frustration and step into fascination to create positive experiences for themselves and those around them. But very early on in this career I realized there was a problem with encouraging others, and the problem is that encouragement is not an isolated task. We can’t simply say to others “You can do it!” because maybe the people we’re working with can’t do it!
The Prerequisite To Encouragement
It’s one thing to tell someone what to do, but quite another to empower them by giving them the relevant tools, knowledge, and skills to do it. Have you ever experienced this? Words of encouragement from a manager, teacher, coach, parent, or peer resulting only in discouragement because they lacked the clarity and confidence of empowerment? There are few things more frustrating! Because of this observation it’s been my experience that the prerequisite to encouraging others is to first provide them with empowerment.
Are You A Skilled Sailor?
I like to think of empowerment as the sail for a boat. Sails are an appropriate tool for providing direction through the seas of life and, for someone who’s floundering, a sail can provide the meaningful direction and guidance they need to get to where they want to go. And just as important as having the relevant tools for the task at hand is also knowing how to use them. Empowerment, then, encompasses being armed with both the appropriate tools and the strategies for how to apply them.
Not having direction in life can perhaps be as frustrating as wanting to give up. You may be engaged with life—but not knowing what you want to do and not knowing where you want to go, you’ll simply end up going through life instead of growing through life. Next year you may be a year older, but will you be a year wiser too?
In a previous article I shared ideas for building a bridge to engagement, to connect from where someone is to where to where we want to take them. In that piece I discussed the importance of rapport in fostering a meaningful connection. In this article I’ll share another “R” word that will help to provide ourselves and others with empowerment. The word is Relevance.
People are more likely to care about what we have to say when we’re able to demonstrate the connection between them and our objective. In other words, our task is to find out what motivates the people we’re working with and then build a bridge that connects to those motivations.
Conveniently, the best way to facilitate this is by asking questions, and it’s the very same questions that help to build engaging rapport will also help us to provide relevant empowerment. Once we get to know others we can begin to connect the dots, revealing a clear picture of how the encouragement we want to deliver connects to the empowerment that they need.
Of course we want to be a positive influence in the lives of our friends, family, coworkers, and community, but before we can encourage others we must first ensure that they are empowered. Yet, perhaps even more important is to acknowledge that we cannot give what we do not have. If we are not empowered then it will be impossible to provide empowerment. Before we go around plucking splinters from the eyes of others let’s make sure we’ve first removed the planks from our own eyes. When we do we’ll be well poised to provide maximum value to others through relevant tools and strategies that provide direction and guidance through the seas of life!
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.