Reflection is a regular part of my day. It is an essential strategy that I use for my growth as a person and leader. Powerful reflection involves getting alone with oneself in a quiet space and removing all distractions. Think about a pristine lake, where the water surface is like glass; reflecting the trees and sky. Where everything silent and still. I focus on creating that same silence and stillness (externally and internally), creating space for reflection to occur.
During a recent time of reflection, I thought about the people who have had the greatest impact on my development as a person and a leader. By all accounts I consider myself extremely blessed, as my list is deep and solid, including my parents, spouse, children, siblings, friends, colleagues, pastors, supervisors… each contributing to my life in a large or small way. Much like a tapestry of colored threads woven together where some colors have many strands, while others may have one or two. Yet, every strand contributes to the story and beauty of the tapestry. Each individual that came to mind has contributed to the tapestry of my life and who I am today.
I paused to think and dig deeper: what is it that they did for me? What were the catalysts? What was “it” that transformed a shy, self-conscious young woman into a person with confidence, courage, and grit? I can say without reservation that their belief in me, my abilities and potential coupled with encouragement provided the push to go after opportunities and face fears. This sustained me when I was unsure or in uncharted territory and inspired me to believe in myself and go beyond to be the best version of myself every day. These investments did not bear a financial cost to the giver. Their gift came from their hearts and minds. Their investment continues to yield a positive return; it has a rippling impact in and through my life as I invest belief and encouragement into others.
Let me ask you this: who has been impactful in shaping who you are? Who has added color to the tapestry of your journey? Were belief and encouragement involved? Who in your life can you extend the gifts of belief and encouragement? I highly recommend investing in intentional reflective practice. Identify your list and the “It” that has been given to you. Send a thank you letter to those who have shaped you. Consider where you can pay it forward. Investing in others yields benefits for the recipient and investor. Your belief in others (your employees, children, colleagues, etc.), elevates them to new heights. It directly impacts their own belief barometer. Much like a pebble dropped in water results in a rippling affect, so too belief and encouragement have a rippling, long lasting impact as it is passed on through those that have experienced it.