My nephew at the zoo.During time with family this holiday season, I had the distinct pleasure of my four-year-old nephew's enthusiasm as I was introduced to Wii bowling. Although he was not playing the game, he was an utterly engaged observer. Every strike or spare I scored was accompanied by cascades of cheers and accolades from him with sheer abandon.
At first, I was taken aback. For the briefest moment, his excitement seemed like a distraction. That was a short-lived reaction, however, and I began to playfully join in with his applause, more as a way of interacting with him than anything else. A little while into the experience, though, a strange shift began to occur. I found myself appreciating his unwavering delight in my successes as the game went on. Even his laughter when I missed a split completely was light-hearted enjoyment rather than ridicule.
I don't hold on to any illusions that he will remember that experience watching his uncle play a video game; my score surely wasn't an accomplishment that ranks with my proudest moments. And yet, there was something so invigorating and delightful about having a personal cheerleader focused entirely on me for that brief time. It's great motivation to keep letting people know about the things I am creating that really matter to me. I tend to convince myself that other people don't really want to hear about what I'm up to, and I could be cheating myself out of that incredible level of energizing support.
At the same time, as I am connecting with other people, I want to have the same level of enthusiasm and delight that my nephew exhibited. It can sometimes be tempting to think that I have to focus on what I am creating and that I can't let myself be distracted by just being someone else's cheerleader. Honestly, I know that there is plenty of time and energy for both. And I'd be very curious to see what we could all create with a little extra concentrated encouragement on a regular basis!