Back when I was in high school, anyone who wanted to be on the tennis team was allowed. No one was cut, but the only players who actually competed were the top eight. All fifteen or twenty of us practiced together every weekday afternoon, and we all attended the matches held against teams from other schools. Our top eight played against their counterparts, and the rest of us played exhibition matches or cheered on the members of our team. And although I took it for granted then—and probably most of us did—the truth is that that cheering we did from the sidelines, those screams of “Nice point,” “Keep it up,” and “This set is yours,” were an essential element in how our team performed. They played to it. Our cheers drove them on, gave them confidence and determination. And if they happened to lose a point, the “Shake it off! You can do this!” helped them to keep moving forward.
Part of the reason why I won NaNoWriMo this year was because of the tremendous support I received from both my writer and non-writer friends. When I was starting to doubt that I would actually be able to write fifty thousand words in one month, my friend commented, “You’ve got this!” And that made me want to “get this.” It gave me the push I needed to keep writing, to keep working toward my goal.
That’s how people function; we do better when we have a support system. It’s true in sports and any organized activity. What we sometimes lose sight of, however, is that this concept is not only for those short term goals of winning a game or finishing a project. This concept of cheering others on to help them persist or improve is also true in everyday life. We do it with our children all the time. “Great job on that math test! Keep it up!” Or “Your book report was so well written. I’ll bet you could write a story of your own.” Although our children get this support from us often, we sometimes neglect to cheer on the adults in our lives. Whether it be colleagues at work, or other mom’s in our real or online communities, or even our spouses, these important people in our lives will truly prosper from our consistent encouragement.
Helping others elevates you. It exudes kindness and generosity—two traits that are important to the betterment of this world. So I try to do my little part. I try to support the artists I’m connected with not just by clicking ‘like’ on their posts and telling them I appreciate their work, but by reviewing their books/products and collaborating with them on projects and giveaways. I support entrepreneurs that I know by spreading the word about their ventures and recommending their services or products. I support the mothers I know by holding their hands when the road is bumpy, dragging them up when they need it, and celebrating with them in their victories. Even though I may disagree with another mother on her parenting techniques, I still tell her, “You’re doing a great job.” I support my husband by telling him how much I appreciate his hard work and that I know he is one of the best in his field despite how tiring and stressful it is for him.
And even though I’m just one person in their sea of friends and acquaintances, I know that my support matters. I know that my cheers make a difference, because each and every word of encouragement that has been sent my way has helped me to keep moving forward and to improve.
No matter where you are in life, you will always have a chance to pull someone up; take it. You’ll never regret sending kindness and generosity into the world.