Deb Sofield

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Encouragement in these hard times

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A while back, when I decided to change the core concept for my show–from Speak Without Fear to Encouragement for Your Life – I felt it was more in line with my heart’s desire to be an encouragement to others.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a 100% believer that your ability to speak and be heard is your best avenue to climb the ladder for personal and professional success, and I will always encourage you to develop your speaking ability, because it truly is the one thing you can do to change your life.

However, as I look around the world today, I am concerned about our world, our children and our leadership. I am seeing firsthand what happens when a nation is so divided against itself. And I’m troubled that the division is for personal gain and not for any other purpose, because it is the true embodiment of a phrase we all know– United we stand. Divided we fall.

And because of that, I think it is important in these hard times that you and I find a bit of encouragement or sanity, and, in our own way, in our own world, with the gifts we have been given, that we recreate moments of peace and encouragement for ourselves and that we share goodwill and peace with others.

And that can be as simple as delivering a meal, or a phone call to check on someone or a kind deed for others. I’m not advocating that you pay off someone’s mortgage (although that would be nice), but I am asking, “Have you thought about what you can you do to show kindness and be an encouragement to others?” What can you do to spread the message to those who are in need of a kind act or deed? This world is so full of bad news that I find many are falling into a depression of their inward soul that seems to have no respite from worry, distrust and fear.

To be encouraging in these hard times matters, because if you don’t step up and do it, ah, friend, who will? I’m concerned that no one will…because no one knows who you know that needs the help you can provide. So it falls on you to step it up and give a bit of yourself.

It is hard to find a fleeting thought of encouragement, as you watch what is going on in the world today, whether it is war in the Middle East, or battle lines being drawn in the Ukraine, or planes missing or being shot down, or the vitriolic rise of hostilities directed at those who are of different faiths. All along we saw the undercurrent of violence bubbling, but seemed somewhat contained. But not anymore, as our world seems to literally be on fire.

And in the midst of it all, as I look around, I don’t see and hear many options to encourage good people keep on keeping on. Not to the exclusion of what is going on in the world, but alongside of it, so that in the midst of the pain we find peace.

So today I’m asking that you step it up and make it your job–your job–to encourage yourself and others.

Anatole France said, Nine tenths of education is encouragement.

I completely agree. Family, friends, and co-workers watch to see just how encouraging you and I will be during good times and bad, and, if we set the standard, I feel sure others will feel safe in following our lead.

Now I’m a firm believer that it is one thing for me to encourage you and gently cajole you to encourage others, but it only works if we have a plan in place and it is a workable model. Nothing much changes by just saying words–we’ve got to do the work to change ourselves to see the bright side, to walk into the light and leave our personal baggage behind, so we can encourage others to be their best.

So you may be saying to yourself, “Well, Deb, how do I go about encouraging others?” Let me give you a few ideas.

I travel a good bit, and I have gotten into the habit of mailing postcards to some of my friends who are older and don’t get out much. It’s a small thing, but remember what it feels like to receive an unexpected card or note in the snail mailbox–it makes you feel good, and, really, it costs me almost nothing and brightens their day.

Also–when I am made aware–I pick up food for friends who are sick or all the kids are sick. Nothing earth shattering, but there is no greater love than a friend who shows up with food, not just in the hour of need, but sometimes in the hour of sheer tiredness.

Or how about the one event my generation does not know what to do about–a funeral or a viewing. I know we’re all tired and busy, but you can do your part by showing respect, or, at the very least, send a card or make a donation. There is nothing sadder than to know that a life is gone and so few people made the time to show up for the celebration for a life well lived. I recently went to a viewing for a former teacher of mine and I knew his daughter; out of our class, I think I was only one of a handful who dropped by to give my regards. I can’t think of anything worse than coming from out of town to take care of family business and not one friend who lives in town, shows up to say they care.

I could go on and on, but, friends, you know what to do–it’s just a matter of doing it. And for the record, these are more than just good manners–these are rules of a truly good person who will go  above and beyond to show respect. I know respect is not a word you hear much nowadays and isn’t that too bad, because, at its core meaning, respect provides a sense or worth or excellence of a person, and by showing respect you can demonstrate encouragement. By simply showing respect to the elderly (holding open the door), to your peers, (congratulating them on a job well done), to your spouse who completes you or to your kids who bring joy to your otherwise dull life—yes, you can show respect, and by doing so you’ll be an encourager.

As much as I am asking you to be encouraging to others, I wonder who encourages you? Can you think of that one person or group that you have that encourages you to be your best – to do your best and then cheers wildly for your success?

Well I trust family and friends fill that spot, but, if they don’t, let’s you and I find a way to be reminded about some of the good things that we’ve done. One-way is to simply write down on a piece of paper the times when you were successful–the time when against all odds you won. I know you have those successes in your life–you’ve just forgotten about them, due to the daily grind of life. So in order to put ourselves in the best possible light for success, we need to be reminded of the good things that have brought us a measure of success, and, in turn, will be fill your encouragement bucket.

There is no doubt that when you think back on a few successes in your life, your brain works to reconfigure how to get back to that place of success. It was that bit of space that allowed you to breathe, to be, to put order in place for your accomplishments, and when you feel successful it is easier for you to find the extra measure of grace, or mercy or love to give a bit of encouragement to others.

Your mind is a wonderful file cabinet, if you’ve stored away the bits of paper that have your lifetime of daily successes written on them. Most any counselor I’ve spoken with has agreed that one success, whether large or small, is a benchmark for many to be able to find their way back to success.

Today I am going to intertwine the words of encouragement and success, because I believe both are needed to find a safe place to stand and stand tall.

Another reason I think it is important to write it down is that you need a tangible object to recreate in your mind the feeling of accomplishment. Just knowing that the award is on the wall, the medal is in the drawer and that the certificate is on the bookshelf, is a visual reminder that you’ve had success before. And, frankly, it doesn’t matter if it is in your work life, your social life, your family life–the fact stands that you’ve been successful once; you can be again.

And once you stand firm on the foundation of your success, it should give you what you need, to be an encouragement to others–to be able to cheer them on, to be able to let them know you’ve walked a mile in their shoes and you’re still standing.

Ah, friend, today set aside the cares of the world and family and job and life, as great as they are, and step it up to be an encouragement to others. The old saying is true; No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. And with that in mind, let’s show care and concern for others by being an encourager.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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