A while back I watched as my good friend, Jeanine Fitzgerald, gave a presentation to a group of educators. Jeanine is a Master Trainer and knows how to communicate great information and concepts to her fellow teachers. She is one of my favorite instructors because she teaches in a manner that creates an environment in which it is fun to learn. Over the years she has taught in almost every imaginable environment; from children of parents who were in the witness protection program of the federal government all the way to the students at Harvard University. To put it very simply, she knows her stuff!
In this particular setting, Jeanine used an illustration that I had not seen. She had a very full glass of water. One by one she started dropping coins into the water. As she did, she talked about how each one of those coins represented a good word that was spoken into the life of a student. She continued to drop coins into the glass making positive comments that any parent or teacher could give to their children; phrases like, “I’m so happy to see you today;” “I like that shirt you are wearing today;” “You did an excellent job on this paper.” You get the idea. Each time she made a positive comment, she dropped another coin into the glass. After doing that many different times, suddenly the water began to spill over the edge of the glass. The water overflowed out of the glass because of the displacement principle. The glass could no longer contain the added coins which had fallen into it without water overflowing out of the top of the glass.
Then Jeanine began to point out several important truths from this simple illustration. She asked if we noticed that just one coin was not able to cause the overflow from the glass. It required dropping many coins into the water before it began to overflow. She further noted that we do not know exactly how many coins it will take to cause the glass to be full enough to overflow. Another point she made was that the coins built on one another; that is, the last coin was important, but the first coin was equally as important. They worked together to make the water flow over the edge of the glass. Finally she reminded us that the overflow took time, one coin at a time.
We were reminded that our children and students (and family members and co-workers) are so much like that glass of water. Each of them already has some degree of water (i.e. self-worth and self-esteem) inside of them. Granted, some children have more than others, but nevertheless, everyone has some measure of self-value, whether large or small in their life.
Jeanine told us that each time we speak a word of encouragement into a child (or anyone else for that matter), we are adding to the overflow potential in his or her life. The positive statements and encouragement we provide to other people help their self-worth and self-esteem to grow, until finally, after a period of time, it begins to spill over to the point that they become a blessing and encouragement to others themselves.
What a beautiful illustration Jeanine shared with us! I have thought about it many times since. When I speak a word of kindness into the life of another person, I do not know which “coin” it is. It may be the first one that starts the process of growth toward feeling better about themselves. Or, it may be a middle coin that helps them just get through the day. Perhaps it will be the last coin that will provide enough self-confidence to cause that person to make a big change in their own personal or professional life.
This week, look for ways to “drop coins” into the lives of others. Of course, you know I am not talking about actual coins, but rather about words of encouragement; words that will cause the water level in the life of another person to rise to help them have some hope and confidence in their own personal life. Until that happens, they will never be able to be an encouragement or blessing to someone else. But, if we are the ones to start the process, it will not be long before their glass is full and starts to spill over onto others.
What about you? Are you a “coin dropper”? You can be the one who pours encouragement into others. I sure want to do that! And, I believe you do, too.
Tip: Create an overflow for others!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm