I drove my oldest daughter Jess (17) home from a party last Friday night and after a few minutes of silence she said “Dad, my guy friends were all talking about you tonight”.
“Me” I said?
She winced and replied “Yeah, it was kind of embarrassing - they all like you, they think you’re a cool dad”. She went on to tell me the details of the conversation and how some of the guys actually wished I was their Dad.
Many of the kids in her highschool have challenging releationships with their parent or parents. Broken homes, blended families, and working parents who are physically absent all the time, have left many of these kids without boundaries and without love.
I thought deeply about her comment and in recollection I remembered how much I have always complimented and encouraged her guy friends. I would give them a pat on the back and praise them for a hockey game well played, or I’d tell them how much I valued their respect for my daughter. I’ve always made a point of calling them by name and taking an interest in their lives.
I’ve always taught my children that they’ll get more bees with honey than vinegar. A genuine smile and a sincere compliment, delivered the right way, can last a lifetime. I remember certain people whose encouraging words became turning points in my life.
My youngest daughter Allie (15), had a soccer game the following day against the second place team in her league. Allie’s team was in 5th place and because this was a playoff game, they were facing the possibility of elimination. She was in bed when we got home but still awake. She was nervous about the game. I was motivated from my conversation with Jess so I shared with Allie the most inspiring talk I could muster before saying prayers and tucking her in for the night.
The next morning, parents and kids all boarded a ferry and later a bus, embarking on a 3 hour trip to the opponents home field on Vancouver Island. Jess’s words from the night before still echoed in my mind and it gave me an idea. I began an experiment. Without telling anyone, I intended on orchestrating a way to individually, compliment and encourage every girl on Allie’s team.
My first words of encouragement went to the girl who wears jersey number 3. She was standing in front of me in the ticket line and when I caught her attention, I simply praised her for her great attitude and talent and then encouraged her to shine on the field. I told her she was a great asset to the team and that I believed in her. I crossed number 3 off my list and moved on. By the time we had arrived at the field I had managed to speak confidentially and directly to every player on the team except one. The experiment was “in play”
If you look at the team stats for the year, the most number of goals scored in a game has been 3. The game was a nail biter in the first half until Allie scored the first goal just before half time. Within the first two minutes of the whistler blowing to start the second half, Allie scored again. Yes I was a proud dad but I was more amazed at the confidence of the whole team. They beat the second place team in the league 5-0 and Allie came home with a hat trick.
Was my experiment was a success? Can you imagine if all16 parents encouraged every individual on the team! Can you imagine if we practiced pre-meditated encouragement everyday.
What if you were to make a list of co-workers, children, friends, clients or family members and write a short encouraging statement for each of them. Then, plan to find an appropriate moment to speak into their lives your words of inspiration.
You never know, you may soon be a popular topic of conversation at a party. When people speak positively about you in public, they are in fact, building your brand. This experiment shows me that encouraging others can be a great, win-win investment.