Do you find it hard to build up others? Do you find it hard to champion someone who’s in your sphere of work, or moves in your social circle – someone who can, in fact, compete with you, and beat you? Do you hardly ever promote someone else’s project or giftedness – especially if it’ll eclipse your own? Are you willing to step out of the limelight to give way to someone who deserves to be discovered?
A friend was telling me the other day how annoyed she was at this woman who would advertise something only if she was the one speaking – apparently, this woman hardly ever promoted an event if she wasn’t the seminar speaker.
I laughed. I told my friend – “Haven’t you accepted the fact that there are very, very few secure people in the world who are capable of building up others? Or are even interested in others?” I told my friend that
I had known this fact since I was in grade 6: the world is crawling with insecure people who aren’t interested in anyone but themselves.
Fortunately, I grew up with quite a number of delightfully secure people – friends who were willing to share what they excelled in, so that others could shine, too. I was a recipient of such graciousness, way back in grade 7. I had perpetually brilliant classmates who stepped aside and let me do what I was good at. They even told our teachers about me. Without classmates like them, I might not have taken up writing as a lifelong passion.
Literally, these friends were “the wind beneath my wings.” They critiqued my work assiduously, ruthlessly – but they also kept pushing me to write. Write. Write. And speak. Speak. Speak. That’s how I learned to do both without much angst or trepidation.
Much later, at work, I met more of their kind – very secure, very stable people with the same kind of graciousness and generosity of spirit. My bosses and colleagues affirmed me, equipped me, and let me soar. It’s amazing how our tight little group was virtually immune to petty office politics. And how naturally we affirmed each other. We had no time to engage in crippling envy or jealousy. Instead we focused on doing our jobs well. How utterly liberating!
Because of them, I have made it my mission to do the same for others: encourage, equip, empower. However, I have to be candid with you. It’s not just a matter of “paying it forward.” It’s partly because of selfish reasons.
You see, God allowed me to discover something quite early in life: there’s a boundless, limitless, indescribable JOY in helping someone shine; in teaching someone to do something well; in giving someone that strong, final PUSH to see him/her fly!!!
That, my friend, is a God-given privilege that’s available only to those who are willing to die to themselves. Only by God’s grace.
“Don’t look out only for your own interest, but take an interest in others, too.” That’s what we’re commanded to do in Philippians 4:2!
It’s really very, very easy.
1. Train yourself to look for the strengths of others. What’s admirable about their character? What’s great about their attitude? What are they good at? What physical attributes do they have that are pleasant or attractive?
When you see anything in someone that deserves praise or appreciation – well, go ahead and say it! It won’t cost you a thing. Don’t miss a golden opportunity to bless someone! You might forget to. It would be a total waste to miss the privilege of encouraging others. The smallest word of praise can motivate people to do better, be a better team player, contribute more to the home or workplace. And who knows – you might just be the first beneficiary of the affirmation you give others!
2. Observe people’s moods. Be sensitive to their tone, body language, facial expressions. Read between the lines, between what they’re saying. Or not saying. People with high EQs excel anywhere. Hands down, they beat those with high IQs but low EQs. When you’re sensitive to other people’s needs and are willing to help them, the probability is very high that they’ll like you, be loyal to you, and go the extra mile for you.
That’s why bosses, teachers, parents, and other figures of authority with high EQs inspire excellent work from their family members, students, staff, or employees. A boss who treats you well will inspire you to do a good job more than a boss who terrorizes you, micromanages you, or has a stratospheric IQ. In fact, studies show that people prefer a boss who affirms them over a boss who gives them a high salary.
What an eye-opener, right?
Remember: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
3. When people talk to you, listen. Pay attention. Give them time, attention and respect. Be interested in their lives. Their opinions. The way they think. The people who matter to them.
Do not be a know-it-all. Don’t be so engrossed in yourself. You don’t have to have an opinion on everything. There are millions of people out there who are more intelligent, more interesting, more sophisticated, more cultured, more up-to-date, more inspiring, and more attractive than you – so you might be (pleasantly) surprised how much you’ll learn by just listening and paying attention to others!
If, however, you think that someone is boring, annoying or tedious to talk to, then politely make an exit but always, always be gracious. However, resist the temptation of feeling superior – you just might be as boring, annoying, or tedious to someone else!
Remember that at the end of the day, if you end up lonely, alone, with no deep, meaningful friendships – that’s probably because you never really developed an interest in someone other than yourself.