Stop Writing. Now Go Ask Your Audience to Describe You.

I dare you to try this experiment.

Ask ten people: What are three words that describe me?

Jeff Goins of made me do this as part of his Tribe Writers course and I was amazed at the results.

Here’s TAKEAWAY #1:Others see the good in us that we can’t see in ourselves.

One of the recurring qualities that people saw in me was “encourager.” This was a surprise to me because I have always had to fight negativity and cynicism in my own life.

As a result of these personal struggles, I developed a subconscious self-concept that my struggle to stay encouraged disqualified me from encouraging others.

But when someone else pointed out this redeemable quality in me I was able to look back and see that it is, in fact, true.

I am an encourager.

Despite my own shortcomings, I have always tried to lift the spirits of those that I have come in contact with — in my classroom, in my home, in my congregation, etc.

I have the ability to be an encourager in me, I just needed someone to point it out.

What this means for you:
You’ve got more good in you than you think. Perhaps you just need someone to bring it to light.

So if no one else is going to point out your rock-star qualities today I will.


You were made in the image of God. There’s no one else like you. You’ve got world-changer in you.

Here’s TAKEAWAY #2: Life wants to steal the redeemable qualities of our youth.

One of the emails I received was from someone that I haven’t seen in 25 years. This is what she said:

“I can only respond about the Jathan I knew when he was a teenager. That young man was talented, empathetic and sincere.”

What a gut-check!

My first thought was: Oh man. Did I lose the empathy and sincerity of my youth? Would she recognize my demeanor and spirit if we bumped into one another tomorrow? Or have I changed for the worse through the years?

Fight for the Best of You
Here’s what I know:

  1. We were given redeemable qualities by God at birth.
  2. Life wants to beat us up and steal them.

I’m thankful that I can look in the mirror and say that my empathy and sincerity are still intact.

But I almost lost them two years ago.

Life had worn me out. I was tired, battling failure, broke, and alone.

Instead of being empathetic I was cynical. Instead of being sincere I was becoming a phony.

What Changed?
I finally drew a line in the sand and decided that life wasn’t going to steal the good parts of me without a bare-knuckled fight.

My wife, my kids, the people that looked up to me need the youthful, honest-hearted Jathan, not an angry old man. The world is overrun with that guy.

I exchanged blows with entitlement, anger, depression, doubt, and a few more thugs for eighteen months to get my lunch money back. But I got it. And I ain’t letting it go again.

So Lara, if we bump into one another tomorrow, I think you’ll recognize me. Even with the bumps and bruises.

Thanks for the gut-check.

What this Means for You:
What redeemable qualities have you lost from your youth? Are you going to let them go without a fight? Your faith, your passion, your sense of humor are worth fighting for.

Your loved ones, your community, the world needs the best of you to shine through.

So fight for it. And get it back.

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