Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wanted: Encouragers

I saw this posted online today and it gave me a little chuckle. For, you see, I am not a natural Encourager. When I hire people, this is one of the subtle things that draws me to finalists - the ability to encourage others as a way of life. Don't get me wrong, I value Encouragement and Encouragers. A lot. It is just intentional work for ME to do it, and to do it well.

I prefer to live a life of optimism and joy. When I think of Critics, I think of those that never can have a "what if" thought. I think of those that always find the problem in a new idea. I also pause and consider more... I think of the realists that keep us grounded. I think of those that monitor budgets and risk management. More than I prefer, I think of me in my professional role. It is an easy default if I am not careful.

We are currently in the process of a comprehensive review of the Student Leadership and Involvement Center. We, along with several other areas, are looking at how we spend our time, our budget, our energy. In considering all of these factors, we are charged with coming up with new ways to do our work. In the midst of this process, I have had more than one person say to me, "Are you worried that at this time next year we will have 3 more Greek letter organizations on campus?" (I think the unspoken commentary is the assumption that it will be without additional staffing.) Well, yes. That makes me concerned, but it also makes me wonder... What could we do differently with 3 more organizations? How many more students could we get engaged on campus? What if we try it and see what happens!

When I think about the ideal role I play in our community, it is as an Encourager. Fraternity and Sorority Life already has plenty of Critics. Some of them are in our organizations. The ability to be an Encourager is an important role for me to play as I cheer you on and support the good work that you are each doing in your organizations. Sometimes when things go sideways and people get a little out of control, my role has to shift. But, at the heart, it really doesn't ever step away from being an Encourager. The role is grounded in Love, Care, Support, Authentic Behavior, Honesty - and those things all lead to positivity and progress.

So, what about you? Are you the member that is the Encourager? As your peers think of you, does support and kindness pop into their minds? Or, are you a part of the group that grouses about little decisions. Are you the Critic that (subtly) celebrates when things don't work? There are defaults that we each fall into. But, you can choose to fight that default and be something else. When you are tired, when you are discouraged, when you find yourself leaning toward the role of the Critic, just remind yourself that the world wants Encouragers. This is your charge. This is your calling. Encourage one another. Besides, we have a surplus of critics already.

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