Friday, 14 December 2018

The Art of Encouragement - Day 15

Saturday 15th December 2018
15 is the magic constant in a Magic Square. The first Magic Square was known to and
written about by Chinese mathematicians. 
Legends dating from as early as 650 BC tell the
story of the 
Lo Shu (洛书) or "scroll of the river Lo".[11] According to the legend, there was
at one time in 
ancient China a huge flood. While the great king Yu was trying to channel the
water out to sea, a 
turtle emerged from it with a curious pattern on its shell: a 3×3 grid
in which circular dots of numbers were arranged, such that the sum of the numbers in each row,
column and diagonal was the same: 15. According to the legend, thereafter people were able
to use this pattern in a certain way to control the river and protect themselves from floods.
It is used today for Feng Shui
As you read this I will be driving south through freezing rain, snow flurries and high winds, bringing my youngest son home for the holidays...and I will be grinning. I love being a mother. The writer of today's post is a renowned, loving parent and husband, a supportive and caring friend/colleague and a huge influence on the global HR community - Steve Browne. I always love his Advent Blog posts - they zing with positivity and good advice.

For the past 12 years Steve has worked for LaRosa's Inc - Ohio's leading pizzeria business and a regional restaurant chain that has grown significantly over the past 60 years. Steve is the Vice President of HR. He has worked as an HR professional for over 25 years and has gained experience in Professional Services, Manufacturing and Consumer Products in addition to Hospitality and Leisure.

Steve is an active leader in the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) in the USA - and was elected to serve as a Director on the Board in 2016. He blogs both for the Society (SHRM Blog) and also on his own site Everyday People, as well as tirelessly communicating with HR professionals and interested parties around the world. His enthusiasm is infectious. I strongly recommend that you follow him on Twitter (his handle is @SBrowneHR) if you have not already done so.


I am a wildly passionate and positive human !! This is how I entered the world, and I am sure it’s how I’ll leave it someday. It’s intriguing to me that being positive is viewed as being an outlier in today’s climate. I’ve often heard it said that – “Positive people piss people off.” We want others to wallow, grouse and suffer because we feel that our negativity is our common bond.

How sad is that?

Seriously. How sad is that?

Now, please don’t think that I ignore the struggles of others. I work in Human Resources (on purpose) and I swim in the sea of humanity on a daily basis. 

The vast majority of every day at work is filled with darkness and dread. Regardless of the extent of a person’s circumstances, they feel that NO ONE has it as difficult as them. This myopic view of daily existence is so debilitating that it’s hard to adequately capture it in words. Using phrases like “It will be okay” or “Hang in there” ring hollow when someone feels buried or consumed by their situation.

There is one approach though that can ring true and break through any level of heartache. That is the art of encouragement. It truly is an art because to do it requires a few components in order for it to have its full effect.


No one likes a fake. This is true with people from all walks of life and occupation. We tend to gauge this on those who have a public or political presence. But, being fake never works for any person. What’s unique about this facet of encouragement is that “being genuine” is determined by others in how they see you behave. This can’t be self-proclaimed.

Genuine people are like magnets. They attract others and people find genuine folks easy to be around. Also, genuine people speak from the heart, and that is key to the art of encouragement.


Encouragement is needed everywhere. It can’t only be doled out to those with whom you feel closest or most comfortable. It’s not a show. It’s a foundational block for interactions and eventually relationships. Being consistent in anything takes practice and discipline in order for it to become natural in how you approach others. Trust me when I say that it is worth your time and effort to consistently encourage.


This probably should be the first point, but I listed it third because I don’t want people to become encouragers out of obligation. This isn’t a “guilt” thing with me. Encouragement is an art because people who are willing are observant. They’ll take the time to intentionally maintain eye contact with strangers as they pass through a crowd. They’ll naturally thank a server in a restaurant for taking care of them. They’ll make sure to genuinely return the greeting of those in retail whose job it is to greet. They won’t walk past them. Willing people notice people on purpose !!

This year’s Advent series listed Hope and High-Fives as two of the three components. I know that Heartaches was also listed, but I find encouragement even in the most dire circumstances. It’s true. I know I’m an outlier and I’m very comfortable with that.

My hope is that this season you start living every day as a constant, visible “high-five” for those who you encounter. You never know. You may be the ONE thing that gives light and encouragement to someone where no one else has. That alone gives me joy. So, pick up your palette and brushes. Use the canvas of life to begin your own art of encouragement !!

Bring Me Sunshine by Morcambe and Wise

Katrina and The Waves singing "Walking on Sunshine"

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