“Thank you for that courage!” (A 45-second reading.)

February 6, 2012

One day, many years ago at home in Uganda, I had the opportunity to give an employee some positive feedback.¬† He looked at me with a big smile and said, ‚ÄúThank you for that courage!‚ÄĚ

While I assumed that perhaps he meant to thank me for my encouragement, I liked the notion of courage as a commodity, something we can give to one another.

I soon learned, though, that the phrase ‚ÄúThank you for that courage‚ÄĚ is common in Uganda and comes from a literal translation of a Luganda phrase.

Since then, I have done some research and found that the word encouragement comes from 15th century French, meaning ‚Äúmake, put in‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúcourage.‚Ä̬† I have also learned that the notion of ‚Äúgiving courage‚ÄĚ seems to be prevalent in a number of religious and spiritual beliefs and is connected to mercy and a search for strength where there is weakness.

When I think of the times that I have been offered sincere compliments, I realize that they did cause me to stand a little straighter, to move with more intention, and to press on.

They gave me courage.

And consider this quote, attributed to Lao Tzu:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

So, within the simple wrapper of a compliment we now have the power of mercy, the wonder of love‚ÄĒand the gift of courage.

Today, I shall seek opportunities to distribute courage‚ÄĒbecause I can.

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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