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Pep Talk? The Best Person to Begin With Is Always You

Pep talks annoy the heck out of me.

As I skim an article on pep talks (ugggh) I realize that the phrase pep talk doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. Sports coaches give pep talks. Motivational speakers give pep talks. Some religious leaders give pep talks. That means you fire people up, right?

Those fire-them-up leaders quickly morph into a caricature of themselves. Canned pep. Fake hope.

Then I get to thinking.

Pep = Vigor = Vitality = Drive.

Those are qualities I desire. In others, in myself. Yes, I want me some pep after all.

Let us banish the notion of a fire-brand pep talk, just for a moment. What might happen in a chat with a colleague who is down in the dumps and cannot see his way to success? How do we facilitate pep without being annoyingly peppy?

Intuit what the other person needs.

If you are having a bad day, the most helpful thing I can do is to simply allow you to have a bad day. Yes, this sucks. It’s quite normal to feel this way. My validation helps you to not beat yourself up. Major pep.

Refrain from the aggravating pep. You just need to snap out of it! Things always work out in the end! I know you’re a winner! Eek. Go away. No generic feel-good-talk, please. Cliché overload.

Affirm a person’s assets.

Remind me of my successes of the past. Remind me of the skills, the personal qualities, the resources I have that enabled those successes. If I was able to do it in the past, chances are I will be able to do it again.

While the “again” will likely look different from the past, the source of those successes has not gone away. Super helpful to remember. That’s real pep.

Related: The Essentials of ATTENDING Behavior

Do NOT lie.

If I bemoan the fact that I don’t write well and you concur with that perception, please don’t tell me that I’m a great writer! The pep might be your reminder that some of the most prolific writers took classes to enhance their writing skills. If they can, I can too. That’s real pep. Not feel-good crap.

Create hope.

When I feel hopeless, my lens tends to get small. I cannot see beyond today, beyond my perceived liabilities. I don’t see how a better tomorrow will ever come.

Don’t tell me what my better tomorrow will look like. Invite me to envision a better one. Help me contemplate the little steps I may take to move toward that tomorrow. That’s meaningful hope. True pep.

Pep = Vigor = Vitality = Drive

The best person to begin with is always you. When you have a bad day, when you feel doubt, when the path forward is nowhere to be found, give yourself a pep talk.

Not the annoying kind, please. Pay attention to your needs, in that moment. Remember your assets. Tell the truth. Get to hope. Real hope, not the fairytale ending.

Those are the essentials of pep.