28 July 2011

Teamwork: The Cheerleader

See my earlier Teamwork post here.

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Another person I'm determined to have on my team is this one:
The Cheerleader
What team doesn't need a cheerleader or two?  The cheerleader doesn't wear a uniform, but he or she has a way of smiling that lets you know you're number 1.  In everyday life, this person's job is less about chanting and leaping into the air in a cool pose and more about providing encouragement at just the right time, which is just as tricky and requires just as much coordination.  The cheerleader is the first one to point out that something has gone well, the friend who knows just when you need a reminder of your awesomeness to serve as an extra push forward and who recognizes your successes even when you don't think they're very important.  My cheerleaders often surprise me; just last night one of them turned to me and said, pretty much out of the blue, "so-and-so thinks you're really smart."  Such a small comment, but talk about an instant confidence boost!  

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I am a cheerleader for others when I can genuinely participate in and celebrate their happiness over an achievement or piece of luck without letting jealousy or competition come into the picture.  For whatever reason, academia has competition built into the system (which makes no sense, because it's not as though the professors hand out a limited number of good grades!), and students spend a lot of time worrying about whether they're measuring up against one another.  Instead we should be acting as one another's cheerleaders.  We can recognize the hard work that others are doing and let them know we see their effort and their success.
The challenge on my side is mainly in remembering to say those nice things I'm thinking out loud instead of keeping them in my head, remembering that everyone likes to have their talents noticed and receive compliments, even if they have a lot of self-confidence.

Sometimes I'm my own best cheerleader.  I still put good papers and important exams that I've passed up on the refrigerator, and lately I've been rewarding myself with knitting breaks when I finish a chapter or section of the book I'm reading at the library as a way of tracking my progress.  3x5 cards with inspiring quotations are taped up in random places throughout my apartment where I see them every day, and a calendar in my kitchen devoted strictly to tracking my workouts in bright colored marker lets me see that I'm meeting fitness goals.  In small ways, I celebrate what I'm doing well.

How do you cheer for others or for yourself?


Anonymous said...

Yay, what an awesome post! I love being "the cheerleader" to my in-person friends and to my blog friends. You're right, sometimes the smallest things really make someone's day, and when someone says something to you that brightens your day, I think it's only fair to pass on a bit of cheer to someone else. :)

I hope you have a great day!

kathy b said...

It is funny, I dont call myself a cheerleader...but you are right on.. I am . I call myself Support Staff. the one who carried the tissues in her purse for whoever needs one, the one who brings extra water and snacks on the roadtrips..the one who leaves handwritten notes of encouragement.

Lately I realize that I resent that my beloved and wonderful Husband, does none of this. He worries about him. period. Maybe he is smart. All the support staff work is tiring. Afterall no one asks me to be the support staff...and if it goes un appreciated, well maybe Im digging my own hole eh?

What do you think? Maybe I just do it for gold stars and the satisfaction that I've helped keep us from getting cranky...must think on this more ALlison...very good jumping point for me..

Allison said...

Kathy, I really like the term "Support Staff"; it captures our type of action so perfectly. I struggle with the resentment issue, too, and lately I've been trying to think of it in terms of the 5 love languages or just different ways people express their gratitude and their care for others, so I can take better notice of both how people are responding and which people communicate the same way I do (I try to spend more time around them because it's very satisfying!). Definitely lots to think about :)

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