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POSITIVELY SPEAKING: In 2020 be an encourager

The world already has enough naysayers.

Want to make a positive and profound difference in 2020? Be an encourager of others. There are already too many voices telling us what is wrong with everything from our personal lives to world events. What the world needs is more positive encouragers.

As I’ve mentioned before, our local school districts are desperate for substitute teachers. There’s a shortage of willing substitutes. I can’t do it often, but jump in when I can. I don’t do it for the money. It doesn’t pay much. I do it for the opportunity to stand in front of a classroom of students and provide positive encouragement.

Children and adults alike benefit from positive affirmation. Whether it is purposefully provided from an optimistic encourager or not, the kids are going to find affirmation somewhere and it’s not always positive. “Come on try it … all the popular kids are doing it,” or “come on, smoking makes you look older.” I can go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture. Our children are going to be influenced somewhere by someone … why not you in a positive way? Why not step out this year and make a purposeful effort to be a positive influence in your family, workplace and community?

Last year, I accidentally accepted a substitute teaching job for the day with kindergarteners. I generally only do junior high or older. I misunderstood the assignment, but with encouragement from my wife, I didn’t call and cancel.

I headed out to the school and when I arrived was introduced to my teaching assistant for the day. She immediately lined up the class of the cutest little boys and girls I’ve ever seen.

She pointed to the first in line and loudly said, “This is the one who hides and sucks his thumb. He’s too old to act like a baby.” She pointed to the next and said, “This little girl never tells the truth, so don’t believe anything she says.” I was stunned. She pointed to the next little boy, but before she spoke, I interrupted her and said, “Thank you, but I think I’ll make my own judgment.” I smiled and introduced myself to the class and said, “I am so excited to be here. I have a feeling this is the best kindergarten class I have ever met, and I believe you will be cooperative and well-mannered today. We are going to learn some fun new things, so let’s all take a seat and begin.”

I spent the day encouraging, complimenting and doing everything I could to uplift and positively affirm these kids. I expected them to be cooperative and well-mannered and they were. At the end of the day, they didn’t want to leave. As one little girl was boarding the bus, she turned and asked, “Why are you so nice?” I said, “Because you deserve it.” Her smile made the whole day worthwhile.

I headed back to the room to get my things and the teaching assistant asked, “Are you coming back tomorrow?” I answered that I was not. She said, “Good. These kids don’t need someone telling them how good they are. They need someone telling them the truth.”

I won’t go into detail of how I responded. I certainly told her what I thought about her attempted introduction of the students that morning.

Life can be tough and rarely fair. To shield others from harsh realities doesn’t serve them well, but every human will benefit from kindness, encouragement and compassion. You can make a difference in the lives of others by being the conduit of encouragement.

Offer positive input and praise. Your discouragement isn’t needed or helpful. The line of those wanting to rain on the parade of others is long and not too distinguished. Everyone has a reason you can’t do something and shouldn’t try. “What if you fail?” the majority will ask. Why not be the lone and needed voice crying out from the wilderness that asks, “What if you succeed?”

What we focus on is what we make happen. Focus on the negative creates more negativity. I find when I encourage others, I become personally encouraged. Why not make it your personal mission to make a positive difference by being an encourager this year? You can do it.

Where should you start? Begin at home and see what happens. I think you will like the result!

GARY W. MOORE is a freelance columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at

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