How to be an Extreme Encourager: Advice from Christine Kane

by cv harquail on October 21, 2009

Host Parents– Ever wonder how to help your Au Pair make her year with you as adventurous as it can be? Here are some ideas about supporting someone, from the (in)famous blogger Christine Kane (shared here in its entirety). Just a little something different for you…. Can you imagine trying some of these suggestions, and making a difference for your au pair?

How to Be an Extreme Encourager

Many years ago, when I first shared my dream of being a songwriter with one of my best friends, she knitted her brows and said, “Huh?”

I can’t say I was deflated by all of the warnings that followed. After all, I had always been surrounded by this kind of “practical thinking.” In fact, I probably shared my dream with her just so she’d talk me out of it.

During this fumbling stumbling time in my life, I met a man who became an unlikely best friend and mentor. He was a brilliant jazz musician, and he could do pretty much anything on the computer.

One night, after he performed at a local jazz club, we were walking towards my car. I told him my dream of being a songwriter. Without even blinking, he said, “Honey (he always called me Honey), you’d be a fabulous songwriter. That’s perfect!” And he meant it.

At that moment, I felt like I was falling into a soft clean bed. I had never experienced such direct and truthful encouragement without a single “practical” warning attached to it. This friend set me free by offering one simple thing:


Fast forward many years and successes and failures later. I’m surrounded by encouragers. I’m sure there are doubters around. But they don’t register anymore.

Also, I have become an extreme encourager myself.

I’ve observed extreme encouragers. I’ve also recognized some traits that they all have in common. Here they are:

• An extreme encourager lives by example

The best encouragers are the ones who live it. Whether they’re just getting started, or they’re veteran risk-taking creativity-living wild-women – the encouragers are the ones who want a bigger life for themselves and are willing to “go there.” This is why my jazz musician friend could simply offer encouragement when my other friend could not.

• An extreme encourager actively listens

Encouragers know that encouragement doesn’t mean you just tell people to “buck up” or “get over it.” They know how to listen. This means looking at the speaker, listening to her, setting agendas and judgments aside, and honoring the speaker as a wise soul.

• An extreme encourager avoids clichés

Avoiding clichés is actually a result of actively listening to someone. Being an extreme encourager doesn’t mean that you blindly tell people “You can do it!” or “Let go of fear!” It’s deeper than that. It’s seeing the truth of the other person, especially when they cannot.

• An extreme encourager acknowledges the hooglie-booglies, but doesn’t focus on them

We all have the hooglie-booglies. These are the voices that tell us we can’t, or we shouldn’t, or we’ll fail, or we’ll look stupid. An encourager doesn’t focus on those voices because she knows they’re trying to hook her. An encourager simply acknowledges that the voices are there and that you can’t make them go away by arguing with them. An encourager knows that those voices aren’t the truth. They only SEEM like the truth.

• An extreme encourager remembers that no one knows what’s best for anyone else

An encourager knows that we are all wise and that sometimes we make choices that might not seem so wise. An extreme encourager calls out our deepest desires and then helps us see the thoughts and fears that hold us back.

• An extreme encourager accepts miracles, grace and mystery as the deeper truth

Extreme encouragers are often mystics of sorts. They know that the so-called “woo-woo” stuff is more real than the so-called “logical” stuff. They celebrate the divine as a simple fact of everyday existence and don’t get caught up in the “prove it” mindset.

• An extreme encourager knows that you can develop the needed character traits as you go

In other words, she knows you’re ready now, even if you’re not perfect yet! I shudder when I read advice that discourages people from trying something because of character traits “required” in advance. “You shouldn’t blog if you’re not disciplined.” “If you don’t have focus, you can’t be a writer.” Most of the successful people I know developed these traits as they went. I certainly did. Encouragers understand the huge potential for growth in each human, especially when someone begins to follow her heart.


I’m grateful to the encouragers! And I’m grateful to be able to pass it on to others – either my friends, or to women in my retreats or my coaching clients!

Who has given you the encouragement you needed in your life? And do you pass it on now?

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her ‘LiveCreative’ weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at


PA au pair mom October 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm

This is a very relevant post for me. I am a nurse by trade. I became an RN in 1999. I always wanted to go back to school and become a nurse practitioner but there were always things holding me back. I had children, it cost a lot of money, I already HAD a great job, etc. People in general, thought it was a crazy idea.

Finally I decided that I wanted to go for it. I applied to the University of Pennsylvania (3.5 hours from home) and surprised to be accepted. It came with a HEFTY price tag. My husband wanted to be supportive but he couldn’t imagine me losing my yearly income, plus paying out the large tuition. Who would watch the kids?

I went to lunch with my mom and she said, “so just do it”. nothing else. Later that week she and my dad offered to lend me the money for school and to watch my boys during the week while I went to school. I went to philly on Mondays and stayed the week until Thursday night. I kept this schedule for 15 months.

Was it easy? No way. was it worth it? absolutely!!!

Looking back I realize that if my mom and dad hadn’t supported me wholeheartedly I NEVER would have been able to do it. Now I have a more flexible schedule and can spend more time with my kids.

so, yes. I try to be an extreme encourager. When others tell me about the reasons they shouldn’t do something I try to point out all the reasons they should. If I can do it, anyone can. My friends often laugh that I am the “go-getter” in our group of friends.

thanks for this article. It was great reading it.

Emma October 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm

One of the reasons my HF is awesome is because they are just like this! When I said I wanted to expand my cooking knowledge my HF starting coming home from the grocery store with random obscure vegetables and other items I was unaccustomed to working with so that I could learn by doing. They bought me canvas when I wanted to paint and asked me to make something for their living room. They encourage me to travel, go out, meet new people. I’m so used to ‘practical advice’ that I’m still adjusting to being open to encouragement and pursuing my dreams but I think it is a wonderful lesson to learn and I’m trying to be more encouraging of other people in their pursuits.

Jenny October 21, 2009 at 4:47 pm

This is a great post!
How can it help us be better host moms? Well – active listening is probably the biggest thing. Helping her to figure out what SHE wants to get out of her year and then encouraging her to do it, even with the limited time and resources she might have. It’s hard to look past our own needs from our Au Pair and remember to consider doing this for her, on purpose. Thank you for reminding us!

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