Empower Others Through Encouragement: Personal and Professional Development

In 2016, my nephew Julian was selected to represent the Law School for the Universidad de Buenos Aires in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Competition in Washington D.C.

Little did I know the crucial lesson this event would offer in me to empower others.

This competition is the oldest and largest international moot court competition in the world, and it attracts participants from almost 700 law schools in more than 90 countries to compete in proceedings that mimic court cases, in this instance before the International Court of Justice. Julian had worked extremely hard to earn a place in the team, and we were all very proud of him.

Despite living only four hours away from D.C., my husband and I initially decided not to visit Julian during the competition, so as not to distract him from the intense preparation he needed for every round. However, things changed when the team from the Universidad de Buenos Aires made it to the final round. We had to decide whether we wanted to be there to cheer them on, comfort them or celebrate their impressive achievement in either outcome.

We decided to make the trip to D.C. We were excited to see Julian and his team compete against some of the best law students in the world. As we were getting  ready to take our seats for the final round, I noticed a woman approaching the Argentinean team, she asked them if they are from Argentina and then screamed, “I want you to lose!”

I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Why would someone want a team to lose, especially when these were just students who were working hard to represent their country? I was furious and felt the need to do something to counteract the negative energy that was being directed at the Argentinean team.

In a heartbeat, I stood up, rushed through security without even blinking, looked at all of them in the eyes and gave my own message to the team. I exclaimed, “I want you to win!”

What does it mean to empower others?

The competition was intense, but in the end the team from the Universidad de  Buenos Aires emerged victorious. It was a moment of pure joy and pride for everyone involved. We celebrated together, and I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to witness such an impressive achievement. But the real lesson on empowering others came seven years later at Julian’s wedding in Buenos Aires in March 2023.

Two young ladies approached me and said, “You might not remember us, but we were on the Jessup team with Julian. You need to know that you changed our lives, and we are eternally thankful. That moment when the lady came to us and screamed, ‘I want you to lose,’ you rushed to us and, in a very assertive way, said, ‘I want you to win.’ You sent us off to victory, grounded us and reminded us why we were there. We remember those words and say them to ourselves when we need that encouragement.”

That day at the Jessup competition, I had no idea that my small gesture had such an impact. All I wanted to do was to remind them of why they were there – to encourage them to keep going, despite the negativity they encountered.

I’m thankful that those two, who are now young lawyers, took the time to look for me among the hundreds of guests to share their reflections. In a midst of a great trip to Argentina, that became with no hesitation, one of my highlights.

As I reflect on that unforgettable moment at the Jessup International Law Competition, I am reminded of the power of words and the way they can empower others and ourselves.

In that crowded auditorium, I witnessed firsthand the destructive force of negativity and hate, but I also experienced the incredible power of positive encouragement and support. It’s amazing how a small action can have such a profound impact on someone’s life.

How can we empower others?

Hearing those words from the young ladies was a humbling experience for me. It made me realize that we never know who is watching or listening to us, and how our words and actions can have a ripple effect on those around us. They reminded me of the power of my words, and how a simple message of encouragement and support had given them the confidence they needed to win. This experience taught me that we all have the power to make a difference in someone’s life, even is small ways that we may not even remember.

I have learned that the message “I want you to win” is not just applied to competitions, but to all aspects of life. In our personal and professional lives, we often encounter obstacles, setbacks and negativity. In those moments, we need someone to remind us of our worth, our potential, and our ability to succeed. That’s where the power of “I want you to win” comes in. It’s a message of encouragement, support and belief in someone’s abilities.

As a personal and professional development coach, I encourage my clients to choose their words carefully and consciously, as they have the power to build up or tear down others. Whether in your personal life, in the C-suite or in the early stages of your career, you have the power to choose whether you damage or build with your words.

Our words and actions can inspire others to be their best selves. It is a responsibility you should take seriously. We all need someone to believe in us and remind us that we have what it takes to succeed. As a coach, my goal is to be that person for my clients – to help them find their strengths, develop their skills and achieve their goals. And as a human being, I aim to be that person for everyone I encounter – to spread positivity, encouragement and support wherever I go.

Empower others helps us all

As I watched Julian get married, surrounded by family and friends, including his Jessup teammates, I couldn’t help but to feel grateful for the experience that we shared at that competition. It was a moment that brought us all together and created a bond that will never be broken. And it reminded me of the power of love, support and encouragement. Those ingredients can change lives in ways that we never imagined possible.

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