Having grown up around being on many different athletic teams that spanned close to 15 years, I had many teammates and many coaches. Just like everything else in the world, I had really great teammates and really great coaches. On the other hand, I had some really bad ones of each as well. Like many of you, some of my coaches were parents of other teammates. Some of the coaches really knew the sport well and were helpful in assisting the each player get better while others were merely the one who volunteered because no one else stepped up.
I even was recruited to help coach my sons’ soccer team because no one else would commit to it, even though my knowledge about soccer was very basic. My husband coached our sons’ baseball teams for over 15 years and committed to assistant coach other teams after our sons had moved onto to being coached by high school coaches.
As an athlete and as a coach, I saw the importance of words.
I felt the sting of the words that belittled my efforts even though I knew I was trying hard and doing what I could to help our team win.
In the same regard, I also felt the power behind the words meant to inspire my teammates and the kids I was coaching when those words were positive.
When my husband was coaching one of my middle son’s games, he walked out to talk to the pitcher, who seemed to be struggling a little. Although none of us sitting in the stands could hear what my husband was saying, I saw my husband put his hand on this young boy’s shoulder and immediately that boy’s mom turned around and yelled across the bleachers, “Michelle, I love your husband!” It was kind of funny because everyone looked my way to see how I would react. But I knew what she meant and I understood that whatever Mike was saying to Ben would impact how Ben responded to those same words.
We don’t have to be on a team to be encouraged
What happens if we aren’t on a team? If we don’t have someone as a designated “coach?”
We can still encourage one another. We can still allow others to encourage us just as much as we encourage others. Words are a simple way to change someone’s attitude and give them something to keep going. especially in a situation when they don’t know what to do next, how they will get to the end, or seem to be floundering through every struggle.
This past Sunday, I found myself needing more than what I had to offer and I found myself struggling to finish. At Mile 19 of the Des Moines Marathon, I had hit my wall. I wanted to quit, not believing that I could go another 7 more miles. I didn’t know how I would do it. I lost sight of the other participants, as the last of us had just chosen to walk the rest of the way. I was running out of time before the organizers shut everything down. I kept telling myself to “keep going” but I was fairly certain my body wasn’t listening.
I was literally following the lines in the street, walking with my head down – believing that if I just followed them, I could find my way to the finish line. Without warning, my saving grace came in a familiar face and a loving embrace just after Mile 24. The words my best friend shared with me no doubt gave me the courage and strength to keep going. I knew she wouldn’t let me quit, not having come this far. Without a moment’s hesitation, she walked with me the the last mile and a half before I took off in a jog towards the finish line.
In my state of wanting to quit, she gave me hope. She believed in me and showed me that no matter what, she would support me and encourage me to keep going. A few simple words gave me what I needed to finish strong. What I needed most when I needed it most.
We can all share simple words…
It doesn’t take much to inspire others. To encourage them to fight through that moment of despair and doubt. To show to find the courage to fight for something.
We forget the power of words, convincing ourselves that someone “knows how we feel” so we don’t say anything. Maybe even telling ourselves that we shouldn’t need to tell someone “Good job!” or “I’m proud of you!” when they accomplish something difficult. Maybe we forget to applaud the effort and only focus on the result.
Although I was an athlete most of my life, one of my greatest things to be in life is to be the one that encourages others to do the things they never thought they could. I was never much of a cheerleader growing up, but I grew up to be one. Read more about that here.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort or forethought to say something inspiring. It doesn’t cost a thing to encourage someone, whether you have something at stake or not.
Having been on the side where I have given those simple words and also been on the side when those simple words were given to me, never underestimate the power found in words that encourage. The words that promote positivity and empower those that hear them. Those words that help us reach our full potential, give us hope, and make us believe.
Those words just don’t impact the one who reads them or the one who hears them — they impact the one you says them too. In ways, we can’t always describe. In ways that change us all forever.
Michelle A. Homme 2016 ©