“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently” Maya Angelou

I often ask participants in my seminars, what a leader should do consistently in-order to boost the courage levels of his or her juniors or team members? The responses I invariably receive are answers like, one should motivate, boost the morale, appreciate and many others in the same directions. Interestingly very few give “encouraging” as an answer. When I share with them the word “encouraging” as an answer, their eyes light up. The answer to my second question, “what do we as leaders do often which reduces the courage levels of our juniors?” to which I then get the excited response in unison “discourage.”

As a leader it is essential that we keep encouraging our team members consistently. The other point to practice as a leader is that when a team member has achieved the result or done the task well, and we pat his or her back saying things like “Well done” is an act of rewarding and should not be considered to be encouraging. Encouraging is the consistent effort of guiding and inspiring the team member, while he or she is still at it. By consistently encouraging the team members while he or she is attempting to complete the task, we are boasting his or her levels of courage and thereby improving the probability of success of juniors and thereby increasing the possibility of rewarding him or her.

There is a beautiful video from Thailand. The video shows a single parent, a mother raising her daughter by selling cut fruit on the streets of Thailand. While she is endeavoring to make ends meet, she is also sending her daughter to a good school, so she may grow up to be an empowered and an educated lady.

One day when the daughter is returning from school with her class mates, the mother watches her daughter standing alone watching other children buying ice cream from the ice cream vendor. The mother realizes that her daughter is watching in silence as she doesn’t have the pocket money to buy the ice cream.

The mother thinks of what to do, and she cuts a piece of pineapple and puts a stick in it like an ice cream and puts it overnight in an ice box.

The daughter gets up the next morning and receives a pineapple ice cream. The daughter eats it and says “wow, it is so delicious, we can sell it, mother.”

The mother next day freezes three pieces overnight and of the daughter goes to the market area to sell.

The daughter comes back in the evening without having sold a single piece. The mother encourages the daughter to go back to market and study and learn from vendors who are selling well.

The daughter goes back and learns how a lady vendor is shouting buy one piece for five baht and three pieces for ten baht, she sees another vendor shouting enthusiastically “buy tender juicy pork, so delicious, and so tender!”

She learns how to price and promote, and soon is able to sell the pineapples ice creams like hot cakes. She grows up earning and learning in school.

Today the child has grown up to be Teacher Achara Poonsawat, teaching children school subjects and encouraging lessons she learnt from her mother.

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Article by Vijay Michihito Batra