Question number six on our Associate Opinion Survey asks a very important question, “Is there someone at work who encourages my development?” I’m sure that as you rewind through your life’s history, you can think of many people who encouraged your development. Oftentimes, encouragement comes from caring words. Other times it can be about as subtle as a garbage truck emptying your trash can on a Wednesday morning. The latter happened to me during one of those summer days that only a twelve year old can relate to.
One summer, my best friend, Barry, and I went through our bow and arrow stage of life. We never managed to shoot any scampering rabbits, but we thought of numerous other dangerous bow activities to threaten the lives of families in the surrounding area. We would lie in the outfield grass in the baseball field behind Barry’s house and shoot arrows straight up into the sky above us, using our legs to assist in pulling the bow string back. Then, like the knuckleheads we were, we would run for our lives, hoping the arrow, now falling earthward, would safely land somewhere other than the tops of our Minnesota Twins baseball caps. One day, chatting with our bows by our sides, Barry suggested, “Why don’t we shoot these arrows with our legs as far as we can toward the Hatton’s house and see how far they go?” With my great intelligence working overtime, I responded, “Oh, that’s a great idea!”
Pulling as hard as we could on the strings of our bows, we launched arrows at the same time toward the Hatton’s house several blocks away. We were stunned as we watched the arrows travel further then we could have ever imagined. Suddenly, we heard a shriek bellowing through the summer atmosphere from the Hatton’s backyard. Thinking we had killed one of the Hattons, Barry and I disappeared into Mr. Himmelman’s cornfield, which was directly behind the Hatton house. Peering out from between the rows of corn, Barry and I were stunned at what we had done. Cindy, the Hatton’s one-year-old daughter, was lying in a playpen under the shade of a very large oak tree. With arms on her hips, the mother was quietly crying and shaking her head as she stared at an arrow that was sticking out of the tree.
“What should we do?” I fearfully questioned Barry. “I think we have two choices,” Barry began. “We can both say nothing and never play with our bows again, or we can fess up.” An hour or so later, after a few heated moments of discussion and long minutes of silence, we emerged from the cornfield. Together with heads hanging low we approached the Hatton’s house and rang the doorbell. We apologized profusely to the mother and promised never to play with our bows and arrows again. With the tip of her pointer finger set directly on my nose, she let loose with the angriest lecture that I was to ever have. I knew I deserved it, so I stood there and took every word of it with my eyes tightly closed.
My development was certainly encouraged that day. Isn’t it interesting that the word encouragement is associated with the word development? Keep your eyes open today with keen awareness and find someone you can encourage.