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I just learned that Monday, September 12th was National Encouragement Day. Though I am writing this to commemorate the actual day, I believe every day should be Encouragement Day. There is joy in the act of giving someone hope and support that inspires confidence and the will to keep going. Words of encouragement can motivate, empower, and bring healing.

My whole career happened because of encouragement to do something I had never done.   My mom pointed to the TV and said, “YOU could do that!” I laughed and thought how sweet that my mom thinks I can do anything, but did not take it seriously. Her encouragement did not come in the form of a smile and kind words. She literally called the TV station and handed me the phone! She stood over me and made me ask the station for an interview, not just ANY station, but the number one station in the area. I had NEVER done TV and knew nothing about talking to a camera, holding close ups, or taking time cues.

I had my interview, and even though Anna in personnel knew I had no TV training, she encouraged me to audition. I was really terrible and told NO ONE (except my mom) that I had done something so audacious. I could not turn on the TV without cringing at the thought of my embarrassing audition. But almost two months later, I received a letter from the station with more encouragement saying, “No, you did not do very well in your audition, but we’d like to ENCOURAGE you to come back and let us work with you. REALLY?!

I went back and each day received encouragement from co-workers and kind viewers to keep going. Of course I also heard from viewers who thought I should go on my way, but I preferred to believe the kind ones.

This young girl from a small town with a strong southern accent was like the first reality show. There were some embarrassing and tough days, but because people cared enough to encourage me, I’ve enjoyed many years of doing something I love. Knowing the power of encouragement to change a life, I do everything I can to encourage others with whatever they may be facing.

It’s easy to give encouragement to people that we like, but what about those who are more challenging? Author and teacher, Dave Willis, shared a quote I try to remember when giving encouragement to people who may not be very nice. He said, “Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.”

quote dave willis barbara mckay

We ALL need the power of encouragement. Here are a few simple ways you can encourage others, too:

  • Let your words and a smile empower, enrich and edify whether talking with family, friends or strangers.
  • When introducing someone, add a few words of praise.
  • When someone is discouraged or hurting, simply ask, “How can I help?”
  • Use the power of presence, just be there for someone.
  • Tell people how they have encouraged you.

Tell Me: How do you encourage others?