A few weeks ago, I visited Roger, an elderly man, who suffering from cancer is not far from completing his earthly journey. Sitting down with him, I began my usual manner of hospice conversation seeking to ease his discomfort. After about thirty minutes, I began my departure. Suddenly, he looked at me wide eyed and alert blurting out, "Sit down here. Stay with me a little longer. I'll tell you something."
I was not really interested in a continued conversation as the first thirty minutes was well, to say the least, a bit laborious. However, I sat down with a somewhat smile's facade. Immediately, Roger took me in his memory to the deck of his WWII Coast Guard Cutter three hundred miles off the coast of Labrador, Canada. Together we dropped depth charges into the ocean's blue on suspected German subs far below the surface. Roger spoke very slowly and hesitantly of the demands of leadership he witnessed during his turbulent years of service in the Coast Guard during the war.
Turning his head and looking straight at me struggling to gather his thoughts he muttered, "Just remember this one thing my young friend . . . no matter how . . . well you do it . . . how well you perform . . . you are a leader . . . and there are always . . . people who don't . . .agree with you." Taking a breath, his cloudy eyes gazed upon me as he continued, "You mustn't give up . . . the ship You never give up the ship!" Then balling up both fists, he stiffened his arms elevating himself in his bed and emphatically questioned, "Do you understand what I am saying?" Before I could answer, his strength waned as he slumped back down into bed. He hesitated again as was his manner the entire conversation, and he repeated, "Do you understand?"
Smiling I humbly replied, "Yes, I understand my friend. Thank you for the most delightful conversation today. With that he drifted into a haze, and I left Roger's room realizing the fortuitous event which just took place. In the course of two hours, a very old man did more, said more, and encouraged more than any other event that day, maybe that that week, and perhaps that month.
Encouragement is all around us. The challenge is to develop a sensitivity to listen for it, learn patience to wait for it, and spend a little time in it. Seek encouraging conversations. They may be a little tough to find, but, they are there if you look hard enough. They are worth the effort in this often caustic world.
The Power of Encouragement: Find Encouraging Places
The Power of Encouragement: Seek Encouraging People