I’m planning to offer a service at our local farmer’s market this summer called 5 Minutes of Encouragement. The idea is me sitting in a lawn chair under a small white tent, talking with anyone who is interested for five minute slots.
I plan to ask what the person would like encouragement for and then offer it the best I can. This experiment feels vulnerable, unusual, outside-of-the-box and highly unpredictable. I think of those things as strengths, not weaknesses.
Lately I’m tired of living small. I want to swing for the fences and try things that I would’ve been terrified of a few years ago. What if no one comes to my tent for encouragement? What if I draw a blank and can’t think of anything helpful to say? What if the whole shebang is a massive embarrassing flop?
Who the hell cares?
I’m done waiting around for the right conditions to exist before I take risks. “What if” is not a helpful exercise. I want to follow my curiosity, as one of my mentors, Rob Bell, advises me to do.
Life is about much more than our net worth, our fears, our preoccupation with personal safety and our addictions to smartphones and busyness. I long for connection on a deep, true level. I love encouragement, appreciation and kindness, both giving these things away and receiving them back. If I want more of this, then I have to pursue it, without fearing the consequences.
5 Minutes of Encouragement could be a beautiful social experiment. It could also be a flaming turd of a failure. I won’t know unless I try. I’m grateful for a friend at our town office who is willing to gamble on this venture with me. When I pitched it to her last week, I said, “I’ve got this crazy idea – any chance you want to try it?” Bless her heart, she said, “I like encouragement. Let’s give it a shot!”
Part of being alive is pushing ourselves beyond the predictable. When we commit to staying true to our interests and convictions, wonderful surprises await. Risk is a large piece of the equation. We have to be equally prepared for failure as for success.
We live in a world where almost everyone is shouting. Social media posts, selfies, blogs, tweets – most of it screams, “Look at me!” I’m desperate for some one-on-one interaction, driven by kind words of encouragement. Often I just want another flesh-and-blood person to tell me I’m doing okay and that I’m going to make it through.
With my 5 Minutes of Encouragement tent, I’m hoping to give this away to others. I’ll be sure to report back. Would you come to hear 5 Minutes of Encouragement from me (or from anyone)?