Not long ago I wrote on this blog about that cliched scene where a faltering comedian asks if his mic is on. That kind of defeat at the open mics of life, I said, can lead to feeling like we want to quit, even if what we are doing is important to us. If someone in the audience had encouraged the guy not to walk off the stage—at least not permanently—maybe a great entertainer would have eventually graced the comedy stages of the world. But I don’t think that’s how that story typically ends. I think his mic joke spells the end.
Then there is this real-life open mic scene, one that presents a kind of hyper encouragement in both its giving and its reception. When she won an Academy Award for her role in Places in the Heart in 1985, actress Sally Field became nearly overcome with gratitude and excitement during her acceptance speech. Her mic, of course, was on, and she famously blurted, "You like me, right now, you like me!" She later said she wanted the respect of her peers more than anything, and, obviously, to her this second Oscar win was an indication that she had it.
At another Academy Award ceremony, in 1969, seventy-two-year-old actress Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for a supporting role in Rosemary’s Baby. She said in her acceptance speech, “I can’t tell you how encouraging at thing like this is.” I have always loved that! And she said it after fifty years in show business.
And don't get me started about how much encouragement writers need!
Sometimes it's just great to feel . . . liked, isn't it? We don’t necessarily need a top-of-the-game award like an Oscar, but a little appreciation and recognition from others and the encouragement that comes along for the ride can all be like mini Oscar wins for us. Moments that motivate us to keep going when the going gets a little wearisome.
For instance, when an editor or author takes the time to tell me I have done a good job (and believe me, none of them have much time!), especially when I have been extra busy and have been extra diligent, that encouragement goes a long, long way. The question is, how often do I take the time to encourage others?
So, tell me, what kind of encouragement keeps you going? And how do you step up to encourage others?