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There’s something very special about the act of encouragement.

When you highlight something that someone has done well, it changes their demeanour and body language.

When you praise someone, you increase the chance of them doing it again.

When you put your arms around someone and inspire them to keep going, they are able to find another burst of energy.

When you brag about their achievements and they hear about it, it fills them with pride and increases their confidence.

So often, attempts are made to change people by using fear, anger, threats, abuse or a range of other negative strategies.

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When someone criticises or discourages you, you get to choose how it impacts you.

You can ignore it completely.

You can let the words sink into your soul.

You can protest and take offense.

You can take on board that which is relevant and discard the rest.

Similarly, when someone praises or encourages you, you can choose the impact that it has.

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As I write this post, I’m staring at a set of ornamental bowls that we have in our living room.

We’ve had them for years.

I don’t know how much they cost, but you can bet it was too much.

And we’ve never used them once.

They just sit there.

Staring at me.

Looking moderately pleasant.

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We don’t like feeling nervous.

It’s not comfortable.

It makes us a bit jittery.

Our heart starts beating slightly harder than is usual.

But that’s OK.

Nervous is under-rated.

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When a wildebeest migrates to better pastures, it must navigate through crocodile infested waters and lion ambushes.

When a bird flies for the first time, it flaps its wings with vigour and hope.

For a butterfly to break free from its cocoon it wrestles and wriggles.

Starting a new business takes so much more than just turning over the “Open” sign on the front door.

To win a championships requires years of hard work and dedication.

The struggle is real.

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I love music and have a range of artists on my playlist.

Luciano Pavarotti, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell all sing to me regularly, their genius on display.

But as I listen to these wonderfully talented individuals, one thing strikes me.

They are each amazing singers, but they each have their own voice.

They are brilliant, yet different.

My oldest son often asks me who the greatest singer of all is, and I start listing a whole heap of names.

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The first draft is rarely very good.

It’s riddled with spelling errors and the characters aren’t well defined.

It’s jumbled and messy and you would never show it to anyone.

But it’s still necessary.

You need the first draft so that you have something to edit.

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The AFL season starts tomorrow evening, which is always an exciting time for our household.

With my team, the Richmond Tigers, the reigning back-to-back premiers, I’ve been using the off-season to watch a lot of highlights of last year and one phrase that the team used a lot stands out.

“What’s in the way becomes the way.”

When something goes wrong, and a lot did, they don’t get frustrated or start complaining.

They go straight into problem solving mode.

If a player is injured, they find a suitable replacement.

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One day or day one?

Are you going to start the process in the future or today?

Are you waiting for the right time, or do you understand that the time is now?

Are you making excuses, or making progress?

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Here in Australia, it’s that time of year when it starts to get darker earlier.

That means I have to walk my trusty golden retriever earlier in the evening or poor Dusty misses out.

We’re also in a time when most of us are working remotely.

So as a manager, I have to find different ways to connect, lead and motivate, or we’ll start going backwards as a team.

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