At a triathlon I participated in, the volunteer who was applying my arm marking said, “Another nicely toned arm.” That was almost two months ago, and I still hear her words replayed in my mind. I don’t think of myself as someone who would be noticed for nice arms, especially in a highly athletic environment, so her words put wind in my sails, and that day I accomplished a personal best at the race.
At another race a few years back, as I struggled to finish a half marathon run, another volunteer cheered, “Nice stride!” That was all I needed to hear that day to enable me to finish, despite the fact that I was almost last and all the bands along the route had already packed up and gone home!
It’s funny how words like “nice arms” and “nice stride” have such power to encourage and make us do things we otherwise may not have done.
The most encouraging and uplifting race I’ve participated in is Kamloops’ “Boogie the Bridge”. Whether you are doing the kids’ mini run, the 5k, 10k, or the 21k, there are random people literally everywhere who are cheering for YOU! They clap as you go by, they cheer, and they hand you a cup of water when needed. In addition to the smiling, cheering faces are the hundreds of chalked words and phrases written along the route: “Movement is Change!” “You are doing it!” “Keep going!” and “Boogie on!” This year, as I ran the 21k run, I noticed a sign at the side of the route that said “Go, go Coach Trill, Merv, and Chris!” It was put there just for me and two of my teammates. I was surprised, and smiled about it all the way to the finish.
I got to thinking. If those words, said months and even years ago, are still empowering me today, how can I do the same for my daughter, my husband, my friends, and even a stranger? It doesn’t have to be just in a race. It could be to the waitress who is serving you: “You’re really good at muti-tasking!” Or it could be to your child: “What a lovely girl you are!” I can take those moments to say the good that I see in someone. You have to be honest, of course, because an honest word is the most powerful.
My challenge this week, and yours (if you choose to accept it), is this: let’s cheer a few people on with some honest and kind words.