Today I have the greatest pleasure to introduce you to our Encourager of the month Harriet Cabelly. Read on and be encouraged.  :)


[success]The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness. – Lao Tzu[/success]

We’re all very good at seeing the problems in our lives, in other’s lives, in the world at large.  It seems to come easy to see what’s not working, what’s not going well, to focus on our ‘issues’.

We even hesitate to sometimes ask, ‘How are you’ for fear of a long ‘shpiel’ of the problem of the day.

Much of our communication with children is around what they’re doing wrong.  “You spilled your milk again; your shirt is sticking out; you left your stuff all over the place…..”  Children receive lots of attention for misbehaving.  Yet we all know that attention fuels more of the same behavior.   And that’s because negative attention is better than no attention.

What if we changed our questions which would thereby point us to a different focus?  What if we started asking what’s working?   What’s going well?  We might start noticing things that were never in our purview.    And therefore start putting our attention on the positives.

[success]We see what we look for and we miss much of what we are not looking for even though it is there…   Our experience of the world is heavily influenced by where we place our attention. ~  Torres and Stavros[/success]

This doesn’t mean that we become pollyanish and ignore the problems.  It simply means we broaden our view, embrace the whole picture and start to appreciate the good that is there as well.


Because when we don’t shed light on what’s working, on the good parts, they get taken for granted.  They fall by the wayside only to have the ‘bad’ in our faces.  This is why gratitude is so important- to bring to our conscious awareness what’s going well, what we have and to truly feel appreciative.   Yes, within our problems, we still have what to be grateful for.  Having a daily gratitude practice, be it journaling, expressing it to ourselves and others, meditating on it, actually provides us with an increased ability to cope with our daily share of stressors.  We’re bringing in the positive to our awareness and creating more of a balance, more of that whole picture of what’s going well and what’s not.

Just as seeds wither and die without water and light, so our goodness, our strengths, our potential, shrivels up, takes a back seat or dies out.   Marva Collins was a master teacher and principal in Chicago.  She got students who were known as most difficult to come into their own goodness and talents.  Her leading question was, How can we cultivate seeds of greatness in our students?  And she dug deep to pull it out.  She believed in the potential of all and got her students to believe in it {and themselves} as well.

We all have strengths, goodness, talents.  But when we’re focused only on the problems, we’re missing the other parts.  Asking the question, ‘what am I/he/she  good at, what are my/his/her strengths’ encourages us to look in that direction.  And in bringing our focus there we begin to see the buds of greatness.  We can then nourish them with attention, encouragement and appreciation and they blossom.    And more of our potential is revealed and expressed.

When our being is encouraged, by ourselves and others, we are capable of doing great.  We function from a place of strength and self-awareness and therefore have greater resilience to deal with the hardships that inevitably come our way.

How can we cultivate the seed of greatness in one another?

Notice where you’re placing your attention.

Ask different questions that will create a different reality

Daily gratitude practices

A belief in the potential of all

Dig deep to pull it out

Acknowledge, attend, nurture, encourage

Be a “beautiful enemy” – respect and challenge as did Marva Collins

Be mindful of that all-important word, And –  what’s wrong And what’s going right.

Appreciate- that which we appreciate grows in value.

Now it’s your turn. Who has helped you cultivate your seed of greatness? Share any thoughts, tips, ideas or experiences you’ve had in the comments below.  You know we love to hear from you.

Harriet Cabelly is a social worker and life coach emphasizing living life to its fullest and creating a good life out of (or despite) adversity. She blogs at her site, 


Elle Sommer is the author of 4 books and a workbook. Her latest publications are a series called The Power of Consciousness, and you will find all three books in this trilogy now available on Kindle. She shares quotes, inspiration and positive vibes on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And her greatest desire is to encourage and inspire others to create not just a good life, but a phenomenal life.


  1. Hi Harriet and Elle,
    Marvellous work here Harriet. Important message brought to life by your words and obvious passion Thank You.
    Be good to yourselves
    Mid Life Coach. Listener. Solution Finder.

  2. Just call me A.

    Wow, wow, wow. I posted the quotes on LinkedIn. Yes, they are that important. I think the focus of humanity needs to change, for sure. I see too many people whine and complain all day when they have three houses, vacations, etc, etc. Where is the gratitude? That is what I focus on! Thank you both for this post!

    • Elle

      Thanks for your thoughts and for sharing. So true what you say that it would indeed be wonderful if our focus changed and gratitude is a wonderful place to begin. 🙂

      • Hi A,
        Yes, I believe do believe if we start changing our focus, wonderful things will happen and we would live in a better world. Gratitiude is the antidote to negativity.

  3. Thank you Harriet, for this beautiful, positive guest post. I appreciate you and your style of writing! I’m a teacher and also from Chicago. I remember reading about Marvin Collins during my training. And I think I even saw a 60 minutes special about her. Thanks for reminding me!! I’ll share your post as it was very encouraging!!

    • Elle

      Interesting Betsy, I’d never heard of her until I read Harriet’s piece, and thanks for sharing her wonderful message. 🙂

    • Hi Betsy,
      Thanks for your lovely words. Yep, Marva Collins was clearly on to something. Don’t know why the educational systems can’t model after her. We can certainly take her ideas and use them in our lives.

  4. You’re so right about the negative attention we pay to things around us.It’s like we’re always on the lookout for the missing links.Interestingly its a proven psychological fact that the human brain is almost hardwired to pick out things which don’t conform to its idea of order.
    Hence the continuous niggling of kids,especially.
    Florence Scovel Shinn says “whatever you focus on expands”.
    That’s very true.It’s worth a try.

    • Elle

      I certainly wasn’t aware that our brain is wired in that way. I’m a big fan of Florence Scovel Shinn so appreciate the reminder to pick up one of her books again. 🙂

    • Hi Rich,
      Thank you for mentioning Florence Shinn. I never heard of her. I will look up her writings. Yes, what we focus on grows. Tony Robbins says, “where focus goes, energy flows.”
      Thanks for your comment.

  5. Harriet and Elle-
    Wonderful post. Harriet, as a gardener, I appreciate your metaphor and know first hand how powerful and transformative it is when you guide children in digging deep and discovering their authentic self. I created a non-profit organization in inner city elementary schools in philadelphia. to say that we were graced with seeds of greatness from students who otherwise might have fallen through the cracks. Thanks for talking about a subject that should be addressed more often. Fran

    • Hi Fran,
      How wonderful that you created a non-profit in Phily on just this subject. These ideas definitely needs to be out there more. Nowadays, with parenting in such a ‘crazy’ way with micromanaging our children’s lives, we’ve forgotten that they’re their own little people who need their own interests and likes to be discover and opened up. We need to give them the ‘down’ time for dream and hear their own voices.

    • Elle

      Thanks Fran, Harriet is truly inspirational in every way. How wonderful that you created a non-profit in schools in your old area…you are one impressive lady. 🙂

  6. Thank you Harriet, this is such an important post. About 10 years ago I was invited to join a writing team. This wonderful community of editors and writers understood and practiced encouragement. As a new writer I was really nervous about my abilities, but I was affirmed and encouraged every step of the way. My relationship with these encouragers literally changed my life. They helped me see myself in a whole new light. I began to realize that I had much to offer. Since that time I have tried to encourage others, for I have learned how powerful a gift it is. You never know when a word of encouragement will change a life.

    • Elle

      Welcome Sharon, what a super story of encouragement in your life. One of the many benefits is that as we encourage others, we plant seeds of encouragement in them on and on. It’s a beautiful thing. And what you say is so true, our support and encouragement can change a life. Kudos to you for continuing to be an encourager. 🙂

    • Hi Sharon,
      Nice to ‘see’ you here from the Goodbloggers. What a great story on encouragement. When we feel good it’s a lot easier to pay it forward. Thanks for commenting here.

  7. Dore' Patlian

    Your guest poster was very clear, concise and powerful. Very nicely done, I feel better already! They are painting my house and have been for days and days and days; but instead of being grateful I was thinking of the days of disorder and hassle. Now I am focused on the fresh new look of my home and how nice it looks.

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Dore,
      Sometimes it is hard to get ourselves out to the web of chaos and disorder. I’m glad you’re able to shift perspectives and appreciate the fresh new look of your home. Thanks for commenting.

    • Elle

      Thank you Dore, *love* your change in perspective. And how much easier it makes our life when we do it. Congrats to you. 🙂

  8. Hello Elle, congratulations for this great post. I totally agree with you.. We harvest what we planted. If we plant seeds of greatness, then we will harvest greatness. It all boils down to positivity. Focus only on what’s working and try to ignore what’s not.

    • Elle

      Welcome Sue, so glad you enjoyed Harriet’s guest poster, and as you say, we reap what we sow. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

      • Hi Sue,
        It’s all about perspective and where we put our focus and attention. It does take practice though. We as humans seem to be drawn more to the drama of ‘issues’. So it’s a work-in-progress. But that’s O.K. as we are constantly evolving.
        Thanks for commenting.

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