Welcome to Stuff I Learned Yesterday. My name is Darrell Darnell, last Friday The Oklahoman newspaper and website had an article about Golden Spiral Media, and I believe if you aren’t learning, you aren’t living. In today’s episode of Stuff I Learned Yesterday I share a recent lesson I learned about encouragement.

Today’s Fun Fact of the Day is: Did you know that this Wednesday, April 8th, is the perfect LOST day? At 4:23:42pm, the date and time will combine to read 4-8-15 16:23:42.

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What I Learned Yesterday:
Last Friday I closed the cover on my sixth book this year. I’m really glad that I’ve made such a focused effort to read more this year. My goal was to read 10 books this year, and I’m well on my way to reaching that goal.

The book I finished is called How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years by Julie A. Ross. I found the book to be very insightful and it helped me understand my tween daughter more that I did before. I grew up in a house with 2 other brothers so I’ve never had any experience with young girls.

So it seems a bit odd that today I’m going to share a recent story with you that helped me learn something about parenting, but it’s a story about my son, and not my daughter. The lesson came to fuller understanding with me as I was reading Porcupine last week.

This story begins in the middle of March. Kari and I learned that the arbor society of our town was giving away free trees. Since the one in our front yard was dead, we decided to go get a free tree. When we showed up to pick it up, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we would get to pick from 6 styles of trees. We found a tree that we liked and took it home.

I watered it and kept it on the patio for a week before I had time to plant it. I knew that I’d have to dig up the dead one first, and that was a job that would take some time. I set aside some time to do it on the following Saturday. I knew that the job would go more quickly if I had some help, so throughout the week I mentioned to both kids that I would love their help planting the tree.

Addison had no interest in helping with the tree. It sounded too much like yard work to her, and she hates doing yard work. I had already decided that this was not a job that I would force either of them to help with, so she was not going to be helping. Colby was excited about helping with the tree. He generally enjoys taking advantage of any time that we can spend together, and he was happy to help.

The tree was still pretty small when it died. It wasn’t even as big around as a tennis ball. The first thing I did was saw the trunk in half, just below the branches. I then gave Colby a saw and some clippers, and assigned him the task of breaking it down so that it would fit into the recycling can. While he was doing that, I grabbed the shovel and began digging up the roots of the tree.

Once the old tree was out and the hole was cleaned out, putting in the new tree was pretty straight forward. Someone told me one that you shouldn’t plant a tree in the same hole that you take one out of, but that person wasn’t volunteering to dig a new hole in my yard. So I put the new tree in the same spot as the previous one.

I filled the hole with some soil I purchased that is specifically designed for trees, and I gave it some water. Colby had lost focus on his task because my task was more exciting. So when I was done with my part of the job, he still had quite a bit of work to do.
At this point I had two choices. I could help Colby break down the old tree, or I could go inside, sit on the couch, and drink some ice water. I chose to go inside. I gave him some pointers on how he could finish his job, and told him all that he would need to do in order for his job to be complete.

I’m really not sure how long he stayed outside working, but I think it was nearly an hour. When he was done, we went outside together and inspected the work he’d done. Outside of one small stick that he had overlooked, he had done everything I’d told him to do.

We put the tools back into the garage and headed toward the door leading into the house. I stopped him, looked him in the eye, and told him that I was proud of him. I told him that he’d done a great job and that the job wasn’t easy. I commended him for staying with the job and having a good attitude about it, even though I’d gone back inside.

His face beamed with pride. His eyes widened, a big smile crossed his face, and he told me, “thank you.” He said that the job ended up being harder than he thought it would be, but he was determined to get it done. I told him he’d made a good choice and we talked about work ethic. I told him that he was a good worker and had a good work ethic. He gave me a big hug and thanked me again.

We then went inside where he went back to playing video games and I went back to my cup of water.

Last week when I was reading Porcupine, I came across a section about encouraging self-esteem and independence in our children. It talked about the correlation of the words courage and encouragement. It seems kind of silly to admit, but I’d never really thought about how these two words are related even though they very clearly are.

I didn’t write down the definition that the author gave for encouragement, but here are a couple of definitions I found online:

encouragement-the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.
courage-the ability to do something that you know is right or good, even though it is dangerous, frightening, or very difficult

Here’s what I learned.

Encouragement is the beginning of courage. When I left Colby out there to finish the job alone, I didn’t do it because I was lazy. I did it because I didn’t want him to be lazy. I could have gone over and done most of the work for him and helped him out. There will be days for that, but this was not one of them. This was a testing day. I wanted to see if he would finish the job. I wanted to see what kind of job he would do. I wanted to see what kind of attitude he would have.

He passed all three of those tests with flying colors. He proved himself to be a good worker. Once that was established, it was my responsibility to tell him. I needed to help him see and understand that he can persevere through tough jobs. I needed to help him understand that he is an honest worker. I needed to help him understand that there is a healthy type of pride that is found in a job well done.

Through my encouragement, he is well on his way to having courage. The truth is, the courage was there all along. But just like the cowardly lion, if he doesn’t recognize that he possesses it, then he doesn’t truly possess it.

Dr. Melanie Greenberg has stated that there are six attributes of courage: Feeling Fear Yet Choosing to Act, Following Your Heart, Persevering in the Face of Adversity, Standing Up For What is Right, and Facing Suffering With Dignity or Faith.

So let me encourage you, to encourage those around you. When you see someone demonstrating courage, tell them. They may not recognize it. Never pass up an opportunity to help build character in those around you. Of course, this is easier when you’re a parent building up a child than it may be with a peer. However, the value in building up those around you and helping them grow is the same in an adult as it is a child. So be of good courage, and encourage those around you this week.

I’m Darrell Darnell and this has been stuff I learned yesterday.

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