Here’s a little history lesson that has plenty of present-day applications.
President James Garfield was shot in 1881 but held on for 80 days before dying. During those days, Americans kept hoping Garfield would somehow survive, because few folks wanted that weasel Chester Arthur taking over the country.
After all, the only other public position Vice President Arthur had held was at the New York Customs House – and he was tossed out of that position due to widespread corruption.
Even Arthur himself wasn’t keen on the idea of his becoming president. After Garfield was shot, Arthur hid from sight, filled with fear and apprehension, according to author Candice Millard in “Destiny of the Republic.”
But during that time, something interesting happened. The sequestered, vice president began receiving letters from a woman named Julia Sand – a single, 32-year-year-old invalid Arthur didn’t know.
In those letters, Sand encouraged Arthur to rise above his past. In one letter, she wrote: “If there is a spark of true nobility in you, now is the occasion to let it shine. Faith in your better nature forces me to write to you – but not to beg you to resign. Do what is more difficult and more brave. Reform!”
And reform Arthur did. He fortified himself, lifted his values and went on to become a respected leader — thanks in no small part to the advice of Julia Sand.
The Arthur-Sand episode is a great example of how one person’s encouragement can often inspire radical changes in another person.
You’ve no doubt seen this in your own life. Think about how words of encouragement have inspired and changed you. I know my life wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling and creative without the many years of encouragement from family and friends, teachers and mentors, clients and audiences.
“Be an encourager,” writes Roy Bennet. “When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Be an encourager. Always.”
Who have you encouraged today?