Encouraging the Heart

To some of our members, practicing acro means much more than just the physical playfullness and connections you establish with others. It goes far beyond that, and this week's blog is written by our very own Kayla McIntosh. We hope you enjoy this beautifully worded and insightful post as much as we have!


Encourage the Heart.  It is one of Kouzes and Posner's five practices of exemplary leadership, and also something that I had learned while sitting in my Wednesday night grad school.  Although I understood its importance and practiced it in my daily life and thus also in my work, there was something that didn't quite click until much later.  

I tell my boss and many colleagues that acro has made me a better person and will continue stand by this statement, because at its core it gently beckons you to encourage the heart and uplift others through your word and actions.

So rewind to my first class or two…First few thoughts 1) dang these people are good 2) what if I can’t do it 3) am I too big for the thin legs of my base/am I strong enough to base this flier.  In response to each of these thoughts. 1) These people have worked hard and have put a lot of trust in one another they earned my first thought. 2) I can do it, Hannah and other members of that class encouraged each other to try, trust, and try again.  3) Wiggly hips are just an obstacle and most of us can leg press much more than our own weight, for example at 130 pounds I can base a beef cake at 230.  It’s not a far stretch to assume that many of us have had hesitations going in.

This however is not about the hesitations each of us had starting out or continue to have in our journey towards new poses, flows, and washing machines, but rather the collective acro voice that comes together to remind us that we have this, we have help, and it will take time. It is the words that remind us how far we have come, how powerful our body has gotten, it gives gratitude to the process and the accomplishments of the individual and team.  We practice encouraging the heart, caring for one another as humans part of a larger community.  Because, it is the practice of lifting one another up that helps the collective to flourish by allowing each person to be and do their best.

Through each action of encouragement and gratitude that you share with others it communicates value added, contribution, and belonging. I have seen this in our community by inviting newcomers, encouraging each other to try something new, to continue working on something that has proven to be a challenge, giving your base a hand, little massages in positions of stillness, words of affirmation, hugs, member Mondays, and many other ways.  By sharing these simple moments with others we show appreciation and that contributes to continued or renewed faith in ability, contribution, and determination.

I have seen the beauty and the impact of encouraging the heart through acro ignite before my eyes and it moved me to fall hips over heels for acro and our #conwayacro family and our culture. As such it has bled into other areas of my life by reminding me to do so consistently, reminded me that it is part of the process rather than an after though, and need not be a complex grand gesture.

So today I challenge you to take your lessons from Acro by encouraging the heart.  Not only for others, but also yourself. Recognize contributions. Hold gratitude. Cheer each other on. Celebrate accomplishments. Through this we will accomplish extraordinary things.


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