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‘Even an old pit pony needs the occasional pat on the nose.’

A word of encouragement goes such a long way, especially when it is a long road that is less travelled.

Most small children when they are learning to walk are given loads of encouragement to take the first few steps unassisted on their own. But since then, how often have you received words, or at least a smile or nod of encouragement?

An even more important question to ask is ‘How often do I spontaneously give encouragement directly to another?’ – Which, and let’s be clear, is very different from cheering on as part of a group of spectators!

Words of encouragement are like oxygen to a flickering flame. They give strength and inspire more enthusiasm for the task.

A wilderness firelighting kit that contains flint or ferro stick and a striker often has a blowing rod included. One blows through it directly onto the newly smouldering tinder and the concentration of air helps turn the smoke into flames. To use the blowing rod as a metaphor, when encouragement is specifically directed and comes from a single,personalised source, the more effective and beneficial it is.

For example, what feels better to both the speaker and the recipient? Something along the lines of:’What you are doing is really important and I can see how your skills and qualities make you the best person to do it.’ OR simply ‘Good luck!’

It’s a special person who gives meaningful, direct words of encouragement because it isn’t a common thing these days. It’s a gift that costs nothing yet gives so much. Whether given between educators and colleagues, between students, educator to student, and also student to educator – let your encouragement be multi-directional and therefore all-inclusive.

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