Here is a quote from Reggie Jackson (former Yankee great):
I'll tell you what makes a great manager; a great manager has a knack for making ballplayers think they are better than they are. He forces you to have a good opinion of yourself. He lets you know that he believes in you. And once you learn how good you really are, you never settle for playing anything less than your best.
While I have a problem with several of Reggie's comments above, the spirit of the quote is right on. Encouragers do make us better than we could be otherwise. Encouragers give us a new perspective of life that drives us forward into new territories. Encouragers can make all the difference, especially for those who are doing new things or are in the middle of a difficult experience.
The opposite can be true as well. Criticism, however well meaning, has the potential to create self-doubt and self-fulfilling prophecies. At times, we need to hear the criticism to make sure we are staying humble and grounded. But too much of a good thing can be detrimental.
When doing pre-marital counseling, we tell the engaged couples that it takes 5 positive interactions to counterbalance 1 negative interaction. If that ratio is maintained, or exceeded, then the marriage has a great chance of being stable and productive for everyone involved.
I believe the same is true in our life. We need positive feedback to counterbalance the negative, however accurate and fair, in our life.
In my mind there are two take-aways from this:
1) We have the opportunity to build other's up and be the positive influence to counterbalance the negativity that we all face.
2) We need to surround ourselves with positive people who believe and support us.