National Day of Encouragement was created in 2007 by the Encouragement Foundation at Harding University, Arkansas, after faculty heard a visiting group of teenagers at a conference say that the number one challenge for young people of today is lack of encouragement.
The idea dovetailed with an encouragement gap we were all facing in the years shortly after the events on September 11th, 2001. That’s why September 12th was chosen to be a day about “inspiring Americans to make deliberate words and acts of encouragement a part of this day first, and then a part of every day of their lives.”
Soon after the day was established it earned a declaration from Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, and its message resonated all the way to the White House and U.S. Senate, where an official resolution was passed in its honor. My favorite excerpt:
“Whereas a National Day of Encouragement would serve as a reminder to counterbalance and overcome negative influences, and would also provide much-needed encouragement and support to others;
Whereas, following the events of September 11, 2001, thousands of people made sacrifices in order to bring help and healing to the victims and their families, inspiring and encouraging the people of the United States; and
Whereas the renewed feelings of unity, hope, selflessness, and encouragement that began on September 12, 2001, are the same feelings that the National Day of Encouragement is meant to recapture and spread: Now, therefore, be it.”
It may not be an official holiday, but that is certainly something that deserves pause. Think of how much kinder the world would be if everyone had someone who cared telling them “you can do it.” Here are some thoughtful things that you can do:
- Encourage a personal pursuit – Your employees have lives outside of the office, and may even work at other freelance jobs in their spare time. Take a moment to find out what’s going on and tell them how cool that is.
- Give face time to everyone – Take a few minutes to have a friendly in-person chat with everyone on the team. Talk until you find out something new about them. Show you really care by building trust and taking an interest.
- Make a sincere compliment – Don’t give lip service and don’t flatter. Pay attention, listen, and then find something meaningful in that to lend your genuine encouragement and support to.
Why is National Day of Encouragement so important? Because no matter where we come from, we all need help sometimes, and it’s good to be reminded of that this time of year. Empathy and compassion are helpful to managers but they are not management tactics – they are life skills that make a real positive impact on the world.