I LOVE to coach! I haven’t always been able to put my finger on why it feeds my soul the way it does, but it has always been some mixture of:

– Satisfaction in watching others take responsibility for moving forward
– Excitement in knowing I was in on that
– Relief that I didn’t have to come up with solutions – nor carry them out
– Freedom in the fact that I was building capacity in others rather than dependence on me
– Joy in seeing what a little bit of encouragement can do in the life of another human being

To be honest, I used to just throw that last one in there because I thought I should. I spent my early days in coaching really focused on the listening and the probing questions that helped lead to discovery and actions. Certainly I enjoyed bringing encouragement into someone’s life, but the real pleasure for me was in getting someone to some new discovery or new action. Encouragement was a bonus…an add-on.

These days, however, I’m repenting.

I’m finding in my coaching over the last couple of years that encouragement is often THE major piece that leads to the others. It is sometimes a seemingly small act of encouragement that does the unlocking…that leads to the new learning or new action. 

While I used to focus on the cleverest of questions, I now look for those opportunities to offer an encouraging word….some hope…..a celebration. REAL encouragement. It has to be real…and I seldom am at a loss for finding ways to offer genuine and timely encouragement.

Here are some things I’m learning about encouragement:

– It can often be that catalyst that gives my client the “nerve” to suggest something risky.
– It is always well received – Is encouragement so rare in our culture that it warrants such appreciation?
– It helps my clients bridge the gap between actions…celebrating was has happened and what can happen rather than focusing on what isn’t happening.
– It never fails to be repaid.

I’m a new man when it comes to encouragement. I look for and find every opportunity I can to give real encouragement and hope to my clients….and I am finding those opportunities everywhere.

What more can you do with encouragement? What new discoveries and actions might that bring? Who can you encourage today?