Do you remember when your child took their first steps? Or put on their shoes for the first time? What about the ground-breaking moment when they use the toilet or ‘potty’ for the first time? Do you remember clapping and cheering every attempt despite how many times they fell down, put the shoe on the wrong foot or lapsed in toilet training? Any onlooker could have thought we were cheering the Matildas in the FIFA Women’s World Cup rather than a toddler taking five steps!
However, things soon change and after a few weeks or months, we take it for granted that our children will walk, dress themselves and use the toilet. Do you ever wonder if they ask themselves what happened to all the cheering?
You may be asking yourself the same question. When does the encouragement stop? When do the adults in your life begin criticising your errors rather than applauding your efforts? Do you go to bed at night and count the day’s failures or relive the day’s successes?
We have a lot to thank Albert Einstein for but maybe one of the biggest reasons is an apparent mistake he made when teaching. The story goes like this:
A lesson front the great Albert Einstein
One day in his university class, Einstein started writing the nine times table on the board:
9 x1 = 9
9 x 2 =18
9 x3 = 27
The university students must have wondered if they had gone back to primary school but then this happened:
Einstein wrote: 9 x10 = 91
The class erupted in howls of laughter. They thought that the great Einstein had made a mistake! He wasn’t so clever after all!
Einstein waited for the jeers and laughing to die down and then he said, “Despite the fact that I analysed nine problems correctly, no one congratulated me. But when I made one mistake, everyone started laughing. This means to me that even if a person is successful, society will notice their smallest mistake. And they’ll like that. So don’t let criticism destroy your dreams. The only person who never makes a mistake is the person who does nothing”.
Einstein believed failure is success in progress. He believed that you will never fail until you stop trying.
Be the cheer squad of others
If you are often feeling in need of encouragement, it doesn’t take an Einstein intellect to work out that others are also feeling the same way and could use a kind word now and again. At GCC, we will often have projects where the staff and students go on the lookout for someone being kind or doing something nice no matter how small it is. Then those students are celebrated publicly so we can continue to cultivate a culture of kindness.
Take a moment to think of the small things that people do all the time that you are maybe taking for granted and how you might cheer them on. You’d be surprised by how many people can be in such a rush that the basics like a smile, “please” and “thank you” go out the door. A rewarding aspect of being other people’s cheer squads is that it is contagious. Quotes like “smiles are contagious, be a carrier” and “a smile is contagious, let’s start an epidemic” are very true – try it.
The ultimate cheer squad
When we are critical of ourselves we often paint the picture of God being just as critical of us like he is a giant killjoy in the sky who can’t wait to say, “Oh no, you’ve blown it again, what am I going to do with you?” However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. God is our ultimate cheer squad.
When we are full of fear, anxiety and dismay at our failures, this is what God has to say in Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
One of my favourite verses is from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 which says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
This verse not only comforts us when we are in trouble but it provides a goal and purpose. We are comforted by God in times of distress so that we can in turn comfort others. Comforting someone and encouraging them are very similar. God is our cheer squad so we can be the cheer squad of others.
In a broken world, we all need cheering on. Small wins deserve applause and encouragement needs amplification. I hope you take a moment to think about how you can be the cheer squad for yourself, your family, friends, neighbours and fellow parents. Remember that you have the ultimate cheer squad in a God who loves and values you.
Mike Curtis, Principal