I would never imagine that someone could find sincere encouragement to be insulting… but I often forget that people bring more to a conversation that the few meager words that I share. Inspired by Gina’s post, I pointed out what I believed to be an obvious talent that should be cultivated and provided words and links and book recommendations that I have found to be inspiring to a friend.
As our conversation drew to a close, I challenged my seatmate to stop making excusing and to begin to address the self doubt and fear that has held him back from living his great passions. I also challenged him to look hard at his job and to try to imagine what would happen if he unleashed the power of his passions and the clarity of his values on his work in the security field. Because honestly, this isn’t just how one person’s life and work is transformed, it’s also how organizations and communities are transformed one genius at a time. I don’t know what he will do with my advice, but I hope that the hour or so of airing and sharing his passions in the light of day would give him an irresistible taste of what it’s like when his personal practical genius rules over him instead of his fear.
Today, I discovered that rage is one of the possible outcomes of encouraging someone else to capitalize on a talent that they themselves have already given up on. Words offered with sincerity and honest praise can be met with hostility born of terror, I suppose. In any event, a sad lesson learned.
I wonder how many budding mentors have had a similar experience of their own and forever withhold their bright encouragement (dare I say cheerleading?) from others?
For me, it doesn’t matter. Insult my pompoms if you like, but I have seen enough people take genuine encouragement and become successful at endeavors that they did not dream possible. Hopeless romantic? Starry-eyed dreamer? That’s me!
In other news, work progresses apace on our major project for 2012, Mayans or no Mayans!