Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cheerleading for Fun and Profit (or Why We Need to be Encouragers)

[As an aside, I think I like blogging so much because of the fun of choosing titles....But that is another post for another day. ;-D]

Most of the time, when  I think of cheerleaders, I think of something like this:

You know the type, the way too perky, always happy person that lives in some kind of la-la land most of the time.  And yet, I am finding myself in the role of cheerleader more and more in my life....If anything, I've always thought of myself as the antithesis of the typical cheerleader.  I'm more of a brooding pessimist than a perpetual optimist with a perky, sparking personality...I am more like this:

I've never been a true goth, but I definitely have a corner on introverted navel-gazing
So, I'm finding myself surprised at how well I can fall into the role of cheer-leading.  How did this happen?  I really don't know, but I am currently my department's Wellness Ambassador, so I've been using that role to convince my colleagues to become more active, and in the process, I am doing a Couch to 5k training program with them on Tuesdays and Thursdays in addition to my normal exercising.  (As an added bonus, I am cultivating more running partners!) With some of the less athletic members of my department, that means reminding them that they can do it...hence the cheer-leading! 

Back when I used to teach public speaking, we spent considerable time talking about public speaking anxiety.  When it came to this particular class, I would usually start by asking students what they were most afraid of about getting up in front of everyone: the answers ranged from passing out or throwing up to having everyone's eyes on them.  A few mentioned that they felt sure that they would die of embarrassment! And yet, in my time teaching public speaking (6+ years), I have never had anyone die, pass out, or throw up.  I have had a student break out in tears, and another one trip and skin her knee on the way to the podium (and a few other jokers taking prat falls for the laugh), but the worst things people thought would happen have never materialized.  The best part of teaching public speaking was seeing how students were able to get past their anxiety to do well!

I'm convinced that we all need encouragers in our lives to keep us from psyching ourselves out of the opportunities God has put in our paths.  Without encouragers and people who can help us look at our own insecurities with a little bit of objectivity, we lose sight of the unique gifts and talents God has given us to share.  Then, we become like that guy in the Parable of the Talents--the one who buries his talent and doesn't do anything with it.  Scripture says that the master throws this servant out for not at least giving the money to money lenders in order to create interest...I don't want to be that kind of person.  I want to use my gifts and talents so that I can leave this world a better place, and that requires both taking risks and receiving encouragement.

While I'm not sure that I will ever be the perky cheer-leading type, I do want to be an encourager in my daily life, and I think that is something that all of us can strive for, since all of us need to be encouraged at times. Most of us have insecurities, and because of them, we tend to overlook some of our own abilities.  When that happens, we tend to avoid putting ourselves out there because we don't want to deal with rejection or failure.  Here's the thing, though.  If we don't try, we can be 100% sure that we won't succeed. So, sometimes, we need a friend or a colleague to come along side us and encourage us to get out there, to try, to let us know that we can try and will (usually) succeed.  I think that is why I love Dr. Seuss's book, "Oh the Places You'll Go." so much.  It doesn't sugar-coat the fact that we will sometimes have to move through failure to find success, but it also encourages us to take that risk.

The last page of the book.  I love Dr. Seuss!

What risk have you been hesitating about?  What has been holding you back?  Go ahead!  You can take that first step!!!