The power of encouragement
Sometimes all we need is the encouragement of just one person … for someone else to believe in us, to give us the confidence and motivation to believe in ourselves.
As many of you know, my dad died when I was four years old, and my mother was not in a
position to raise my younger brother and me. So after living with a couple of different foster families, when I was in the first grade we were sent to St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, a Catholic orphanage run by the Felician sisters in Jackson, Michigan. I spent six and a half years in the orphanage. While I did not feel like I belonged there and resented much of what I had to endure, I am forever grateful for receiving a firm foundation in my Catholic faith… as well as the love and encouragement of Sister Berarda.
The first two grades of school were taught in the orphanage, and my schooling there began on a high note, thanks to the inspiration of a gentle, loving teacher, Sister Berarda. She in many ways became my surrogate mother, and I flourished under her love and care. She always encouraged me, even when my ideas seemed farfetched. I remember telling the class that when I grew up I wanted to be a priest, an architect, and shortstop for the Detroit Tigers. The other kids all laughed and said that was impossible, and that I could not do all three. Sister Berarda simply quieted them down and said, “Well, I don’t think it’s ever been done before, Tommy, but if you want to do it, there’s no reason you can’t.” That was inspiring to me and gave me confidence to believe in myself.
I think we can all look back over our lives, and point to someone specifically (or maybe to several people) who believed in us… and their encouragement and faith in us helped us to rise above a specific challenge or get through a particularly challenging time. This may have been a parent, grandparent, teacher, coach, or mentor in the business world. The important thing is that they expressed to us, through their words of encouragement, that they believed in us and their encouragement propelled us forward and gave us confidence to believe in ourselves or in some cases, we kept going because we did not want to let that person down.
As we begin this new year, let me challenge you to be that source of encouragement to people in your life. Due to your success in business, you have a platform that in many ways amplifies your influence. I can assure you that if you speak words of encouragement to those around you, it will bear much fruit.
TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO