Friday, May 22, 2015

The Gift of Encouragement

Let me tell you a story. A young computer programmer started his own company. They dealt in hardware and software and very quickly established a niche for themselves in Silicon Valley and beyond. Bigger companies offered to buy them out, but the young man stuck to his guns and continued to grow his little business. Soon his reputation was that of a genius and his little company had become a very big deal. When Apple came calling, asking him to become their new CEO, he could not refuse. He was soon the boy wonder of the computing world, adored by many and respected by all.

He was replaced at his little company by a unknown woman, previously a simple programmer at an even smaller company. Immediately there were struggles. Other business leaders did not respect her. Reviews of new products were unmerciful and scathing. After only one month on the job it seemed that both she and the company might not last. Four months later they were on the verge of going under.

At that point she received a very strange phone call. It seemed that the CEO of Apple, the biggest of big shots in their business, wanted to come by and address the employees and shareholders of the little company he had founded. She was stunned, and even thought it might be a prank. But it wasn't. The young man came to the meeting and shared with the crowd that the woman was indeed the right person for the job and that they should have faith in her. He reminded them that he had come from nothing as well. He stood up for her and gave her the boost she needed to carry on. And from that day forward attitudes changed, perceptions changed and the little company once again began to flourish. She had never asked for the kindness she received, but it changed her life and the lives of those who worked for her- forever. Encouragement can do that. It can change the world.

That story is a parable, made up by this writer to make a point. But it has a mirror image that is not fictional, but is in fact very real. The young man in the real story is David Letterman, and the company was Late Night- his show at NBC. After Dave left for CBS he was replaced by another young man named Conan O'Brien, an unknown writer who was in way over his head as a performer. And just like in the parable, under the new leadership the show floundered and nearly failed. But for reasons that Conan still doesn't understand, Letterman (who by then was the hottest name in television) asked to come back on his old show as a guest. And he brought his A game. He told Conan that he was doing great and that he was right where needed to be. When Dave left, his words of encouragement lifted the entire cast and crew to a new level- and gave Conan another 16 years as the host of Late Night. On his current show on the night of May 20th Conan told this story as a tribute to Letterman, and added this: "If you have ever liked any silly or stupid thing I've done on television over the past 22 years, you must know that it probably never would have happened if it weren't for DaveAt one of the lowest points in my life, when I was a national punchline, Dave, for reasons I still don't really understand, rescued me. I still believe that that simple act of kindness turned everything around and made all the difference."

Whether in business, athletics, personal relationships or faith, there is incredible, awesome and amazing power in encouragement. A few kind and supportive words and deeds can change someone's day- or their life. Today I challenge you to seek out someone you know who needs a lift, a boost or a rescue. Reach out to them and give them encouragement and hope. You cannot imagine the impact. And you will be a better person for it. Have a great weekend!

Because of Jesus,

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