They say to be able to grow we should learn to take positive criticism (read feedback). Agreed its important to have a reality check every once in a while but in real, the blows that life gives you may be so hard and so frequent that most often in real life , a sapling requires protection from the forceful wind of harsh criticism and unforgiving sun of fault-finding and needs kind words and encouragement .
Encouragement is like gentle watering of a sapling, just the right amount, observing how much the plant needs and can take and all the while being vigilant about the growth and development of the plant. This cannot be possible without love for humanity and goodness. Its not an ordinary person's cup of tea. One day the sapling may have to be transplanted to a bigger pot with more soil or even on the ground. This has been the greatest take-away from World Pulse, to believe in the power of encouragement and love rather than criticism.
The best encouragers who have played a very important role in my life in cheering me up, praying for me when I was sick/down/waiting for a project sanction/travelling abroad on a mission/writing/participating in a competition and at every challenging cross-road that life threw my way, lending me a patient ear to unburden my soul, being kind to me, linking me to fellowships, conferences, funding resources or like-minded people and many other ways they have made me stronger, happier, more fulfilled and hopeful are two very very special women. One is Jill Langhus-Griffin from Spain and another is Tamarack Verrall from Canada.
Little must Jill and Tamarack know that when they were reaching out to me what was the crisis I had been surrounded in or how low I may have felt but the World Pulse Spirit Awards give me the opportunity to tell them, how wonderfully they have saved me so many times and I won't be surprised to find that many other women around the globe may have been recipients of their encouragement.
One incident that comes to my mind is the maturity, patience, endurance and ability to forgive and forget that Jill demonstrated in a conflict situation between women leaders online. Earlier this year there was a debate on a post on Jill's social media where I also commented. To my horror, a woman from her friend circle who did not agree with my point of view chose abusive and humiliating vocabulary to address me. This was a situation where all the women in that debate were united in women's welfare and human rights but due to different communication styles and different levels of patience, a heated conversation was erupting. I found Jill demonstrate mature personality to deal with the differing voices and maintain good relationships with everyone involved. This quality is a very important quality in a woman leader. There may be many women who are exceptional in the work they do and how they pursue their cause but its another leadership quality to be able to hold everyone together, be humble, create peace and forgive and forget so we all can move on and address bigger issues we have to address in this world. And for this I nominate Jill for the World Pulse Encourager Spirit Awards.
Tamarack is a very knowledgeable person and possesses hands-on experience. But what makes her the best encourager is how she employs her teaching skills to mould people, even me, using innovative and meaningful medium. In times when our digital communication is 'K' for okay and 'TTYL' for Talk To You Later where people make the minimal effort to make the other person understand, Tamarack has impressed me with long meaningful messages, mails and even Skype calls where she uses her outstanding teaching skills to communicate. I have learnt how to write to people after observing her. Another exemplary quality of Tamarack is how she can relate to anyone and make the person feel understood. I can never forget when I was covering Orange Festival an annual agricultural festival in north east India in Tamenglong district in Manipur, she would spend time and effort to share knowledge and experience on farming, pest control, fruits harvest and preparing me mentally for my assignment. Though I was oceans away from Tamarack in rural India and then on my own to report from the field, I had an intellectual partner to discuss agriculture with me. Finally, when the Best Orange competition prize went to a woman farmer, Tamarack sent a poem relevant for women's leadership and women farmers. I gave the poem to the woman farmer who was jubiliant to receive such a gift from Canada and a bond was formed linking Canada to Bangalore where I live to this woman farmer who lived in remote village in Tamenglong. I nominate Tamarack for the World Pulse Encourager Spirit Awards for her ability to strike a bond and make a link with any woman in any part of the world.