Are you an encourager or a critic?
I like to think I have a critical eye, a discerning eye that sizes, measures, calculates and assesses with the mad skills of a Marvel super action hero. But I seldom use it for ill… it’s way too valuable of a tool for that.
I like to use my critical eye to see what’s missing so I can fill in the blanks, support, or encourage others.
I can’t leap from tall buildings, stop a moving train, or even keep the beat when I dance. But I know this: my Super Power, my Native Genius is encouragement. Validation.
I heard a speaker talk recently about the importance of validation. He said when we validate people, we are demonstrating love, encouragement, and opening up a field of grace.
And it’s easy work. It might be as simple as complimenting the waitress on how she balances two trays while maneuvering through a crowded restaurant. Who knows, maybe that one encouraging comment will be what helps her through a tough shift. (Just think, you could be a stealth grace worker plowing fields of grace without ever breaking a sweat.)
Maybe it’s supporting a friend’s new business by spreading the word to others, or by buying their products or services. On social media, maybe it’s as simple as hitting the share button to spread a positive message, or to support the writer who crafted a piece that you enjoyed.
Like I said, validating others is easy work. Yet, some are not comfortable with this role. I heard a different speaker lecture about people who deliberately withhold grace or encouragement from others. Her theory is that people often hold back encouragement or validation because they feel they lose power when they empower others.
It sounds strange, but I suspect there is some truth to her theory.
How many times do we deliberately withhold compliments or praise to co-workers or family members or even strangers? Or worse, diminish someone else’s accomplishment with a joke or unnecessary criticism?
Why do we grab hold to our grace like it is valuable currency, a Louis Vuitton handbag we need to clutch tightly on crowded streets?
But maybe that’s the point. Compliments, validation, encouragement are a form of social currency that can empower another. And empowerment is worth a lot.
But I say—quit being stingy with the currency of grace. Loosen up on the purse strings.
Let grace loose on the streets. Because that’s what she wants—freedom to roam wild and easy, moving from your lips in drunken bliss to another and to another until everyone is dazed and drunk on her beauty.
Grace likes to get around and when she does, she tends to boomerang back from whence she came.
So let me encourage you to put on your cape and try out your new super power. Put grace into action with words, compliments, smiles, knowing looks and winks.
I promise you this: Giving grace away, being free and easy with this valuable currency, will enrich someone’s life. Starting with yours.
If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes .Or visit me at http://www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.