Everyone needs a little sunshine

Posted by hualoon 0 Comments

Did you know?

The morning glory is a common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae. Many of them are climbing vines, and therefore for the morning glory to grow to its full possible height, it requires the support of a wall or a trellis structure. With the proper support, the morning glory vines can reach a height of 10-20 feet.

Everyone needs a little sunshine… everyday!

Yet for all the importance given by the needed support for the growth of the morning glory plant, another essential element is required for it to reach its full blossoming potential – sunshine! As the name implies, the flowers of many species of morning glory plants only blossom in the morning when the sun is out. In fact, morning glory plants that grow in places with very little sunlight have been observed to not blossom.

Flowers of the morning glory only live for a day. The flowers will unravel into full bloom in the early morning, and fall at the end of the day. New flowers bud overnight… and need the ‘encouragement’ of the sun in the morning in order to bloom.

An unopened spiral bud of a morning glory flower

We need both Support and Encouragement

While some might see them as similar, I believe that support and encouragement are two separate practices essential for leaders. Implementing strategies and tasks to achieve a goal is important, and these provide the external support and guiding framework as we work towards our desired outcome. However, perhaps sometimes more important than the external support is the encouragement that our hearts need to keep the flame of motivation burning in order for us to tap and target our energy towards reaching our goal.

Encouragement is the opposite of criticism

We all seem to be our own worst critics. We constantly analyse, pick apart and downgrade what we do in our day-to-day lives. We also receive regular criticism from others – bosses, parents, teachers, friends who tell us that what we’re doing is not right. Some of these criticisms are real, and others imaginary. Needless to say, criticism certainly doesn’t help to motivate us to go for our goals. One study by the Gallup Organisation found that criticism was only taken positively once in every 13 situations!

Opposite to criticism is encouragement. Encouragement is about noticing and dwelling upon the positive. Encouragement, recognition, affirmation, appreciation, reinforcement, validation, celebration… is a powerful way to help people move forward in their lives. It’s a very personal act that requires generosity and courage. In order to be genuine in our encouragement, we need to be able to give a part of ourselves – to let the warmth and light of our sunlight touch other lives to help them to grow and blossom. It is a gift that enriches the lives of both the giver and receiver.

Perhaps using the example of the Facebook like button, when we encourage someone, we not only leave our mark on their page but also add them to ours!

Success Solutions: More on the power of encouragement

From the neuroscience perspective of the Results Coaching Systems, encouragement is a form of positive feedback and is a way of reinforcing new wiring and maps in our brains to develop new positive actions and behaviour. As we also feel good about ourselves, we can also more easily access our limited working memory and be more effective in our tasks. When we receive encouragement, we not only feel good, we are more likely able to think clearly and focus on solutions.

Encourage the Heart is also one of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership as identified by Kouzes & Posner in The Leadership Challenge. In fact, it is a practice important enough to warrant its own book and training workshop! Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders need to recognize contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders need to celebrate accomplishments. This makes them feel like heroes.

And perhaps an apt way to end this post would be with a song. May the sun come out for us tomorrow to bring us a smile!  🙂

From the ant to the zebra… from the acacia to the zucchini… there are so many lessons that we can learn from animals and plants about growing our character and leadership strengths. Join us on an amazing journey of discovery and reflection with our Leadership of Nature™ series as we see and hear inspirational stories from nature, as well as put into practice life changing applications for success in our lives!

Contact us for more information today.

(article by Ling Hua Loon: hualoon@mindlifesuccess.com)

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