Three Strategies of Encouragement
Cultivating. Potential emerging sages can be nurtured through personal story-telling and exhibiting the gift of good example:
I don’t think you can ever intellectually talk a person into serving because it doesn’t make practical sense. You have to be good at knowing when to invite someone to become involved, and once they get a taste they get hooked. Putting guilt on people to serve doesn’t work. They have to desire it themselves.
They may be caught-up in family and not see their own potential, but I do. It is important for leaders to expose people to the bigger picture in small doses so they don’t get overwhelmed. Try to spark their interest and then mentor them.
Asking. An essential assumption in the field of fund raising is that people need to be asked if they are going to contribute money to worthy causes. The same is true for civic engagement. Perhaps the opportunity hasn’t represented itself yet, and candidates for civic engagement need to be invited. To be asked is really important, for most people who have leadership skills often will find a way to contribute:
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People need to be continually asked if they are to get engaged. It is said that it takes seven repetitions to get something through to most adults, so we just need to keep asking them to get involved.
People need to be asked. It’s interesting that I am not more involved in my kids’ current school because nobody welcomed me. No one asked me to do anything. Another example is a woman who has worked with Community Support Network doing some facilitation, and who is very wise. The first thing she did was to ask us what we love to do. There can be a difference between what we love to do and what we’re good at. Then, she asked us to identify the things we really hate to do. For me, I hate to make telephone calls.
You can avoid burning-out people by emphasizing their strengths and giving them discreet, do-able tasks – small chunks that they can accomplish and feel good about. Then you grow them from there.