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, “Thank you for that courage!”
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 “Thank you for that courage” 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 “make, put in” and “courage.” I have also learned that the notion of “giving courage” 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—and the gift of courage.
Today, I shall seek opportunities to distribute courage—because I can.