Hardly anything thrills my heart more than cheering someone on. As an elementary school teacher for over a dozen years, watching my students learn, grow, discover, and delight in those discoveries brought me indescribable joy.
Later, as a Territory Manager for a global wellness company, I found that same joy in leading a team of passionate, dedicated, hard-working professionals in becoming the very best they could be. In turn, they beautifully and inspirationally supported the customers we served to become the very best versions of themselves.
Cheering on someone else, encouraging them to keep going, educating and equipping them with the resources and tools they need, and then celebrating their accomplishments when they succeed is extraordinarily gratifying to me. I hope I never outgrow the wonder and happiness I feel when I can show someone I’m their greatest fan.
Heck, if you could be in my house during the day while I’m working in my home office, you’d even catch me rooting for my Roomba iRobot. Sometimes he gets hung up under the back of the recliner or a bed. “Come on, little guy, you can do it,” I encourage as he pivots and spins to find a clear path out.
When I finally hear the happy chirp letting me know he finished his task and made it back to dock in his base, I always tell him what a great job he did. Sorry, now I’ve gotten you anxious about my mental health, having confessed to speaking words of affirmation to an electronic vacuum cleaner.
The truth is, words of affirmation come naturally to me. I’m sure that’s a combination of nature and nurture. I was born an optimist and grew up in a family that surrounded me with love, support, and encouragement. As an adult, I have intentionally cultivated the practice of using my words for good.
Perhaps this is why I am finding such satisfaction in grant writing. Grant writing is my favorite example of how using my words for good can positively and powerfully impact others.
If I do a good job telling the story of need and painting a clear picture of how the non-profit I’m writing for can meet that need, my words can move mountains. In the case of the most recent grant I submitted, my words can literally help move people out of homelessness and into housing stability.
Granted (sorry, that’s a grant writer pun and a pretty lame one at that), not all of the writing I do for hire has such a direct impact. I’ve recently ghostwritten twenty-six blogs for business clients and completed a marketing campaign for an out-of-state realtor.
Commercial copywriting, especially as a ghostwriter, means I’m using my words to tell my client’s story or deliver their message in their voice to their customers—no room to flower any of that work with words of my own design.
But as a business professional, as a self-employed independent contractor, I can make sure every communication I share with a client is as positive and respectful as possible. I can delight them with good, high-quality work that comes in ahead of the deadline.
I can offer sincere congratulations on their achievements, authentically compliment them on their work, product or services, on their collaboration, and efficiency. And when the project is over, I can express my genuine appreciation for a chance to partner with them.
I guess what I’m saying is that I have no good reason, no valid excuse, to miss an opportunity to affirm someone with my words. When it comes right down to it, neither do you. Words are powerful. They can tear families, businesses, communities, countries apart.
They can also bring healing, understanding, forgiveness, and hope. Let’s use our words wisely, carefully, and with the hope of building up and not tearing down as our goal. If words of affirmation don’t come naturally to you, practice on your pet or your Roomba as you work up the courage to speak them to humans.
I promise you will never regret a single intentional, life-giving, hope-filled, positive word of affirmation sincerely spoken. I challenge you to prove that for yourself.