And now a word about a simple thing: a word of encouragement. First of all, welcome back to the blog!  I enjoyed a much-needed break!

This week’s blog is really an attempt to shine the light on a strategy that will enrich your life: Encouragement. You have undoubtedly experienced the impact of this, one way or another, in your own life. And you’ll notice that I referred to it as a “strategy”. That means I think of it as an action. Something that people do.

I also said that you have probably experienced the impact of encouragement. You can probably think of a time someone encouraged you, and you probably still remember how it lifted you up a bit. Think of the Grinch when his heart got 3 sizes bigger. The word “encouragement” embodies the idea of heartening, thereby making stronger (a la our friend, the Grinch). When you encourage someone, you invest something in them which makes them stronger and gives them more “oomph”, to use a clinical term. Haha!

Conversely, blowing an opportunity to encourage can result in disappointment to the non-encouraged person. And, unfortunately, there are specific and destructive things that we can do which actively discourage someone. Don’t be THAT guy, eh!

Why this was on my mind in the first place emerged in the past week. June and July were busy for me, with a few additional stressors. Coincidentally, Cross-Swim had ended in June and I think I was experiencing a bit of a let-down from that. So the workouts were a bit aimless again.

My friend texted a few times to see if I wanted to go for a bike ride with him (like a training ride). Once I was finally able to coordinate a time, off we went and had an excellent ride and visit. We talked shop about our bikes (his is actually a real road bike, while mine is a sort of a Franken-Bike which my son thinks looks like a moose. Well, okay, it does look like a moose, but that’s not the point). I shared a few ideas about setting up his bike – seat angle/height/position, handle bar rotation, etc. I don’t know if it was helpful but I enjoyed sharing what I had learned and two things he did encouraged me: first, he kept asking me to ride, and second, he seemed interested in what I had to say about the bike setup. After our second ride, he had some feedback on the bike adjustments and commented that I had encouraged him by going out for the ride. So that was pretty cool. I guess it’s symbiotic encouragement – each helped the other and both are better off. And it did kind of lift my spirits to get back out and grind the gears.

And then, just when I was thinking about getting back to the drawing board for the blog, my wife passed along a message that one of her colleagues was (patiently) waiting and looking forward to the blog starting up again. Wow! Just when I had started wondering if anyone was out there. . . I find out that at least one person is. And that was encouraging to me. I may be taking liberties, but I get the feeling that the blog may be encouraging to that person also. So, again, it’s symbiotic – each helps the other and both are better off.

My message is this: never forget that you have opportunities (some find you, and some you make) throughout your day to strategically “hearten” other people. You know what it does for you when they hearten you, and you also know how it feels when you could have used a lift and didn’t get one. . .

So, thanks to the encouragers. If this blog could influence people, it’s goal would be to challenge and encourage the readers sufficiently so that they become stronger, more effective people.

Those are the kind of people I like to have around me.