World’s Most Expensive Substance

World's Most Expensive Substance by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

I once worked with a catalyst—in a chemical manufacturing process—called rhodium. It was expensive. In fact, it was approximately 10x the cost of GOLD. Yep, really! But rhodium is nowhere near the most expensive substance in the world. The winner?

ANTIMATTER. … The word, “antimatter,” may sound a bit far-fetched, like something out of a science-fiction movie or superheroes comic book. But in the world of exotic physics, antimatter holds much promise in the worlds of medicine, space exploration, and energy. It is a developing field and who knows what the future will hold (aside from God!).

Substances, such as antihydrogen, produced in particle accelerators cost somewhere upwards of $1,600 trillion US dollars per ounce. Per OUNCE. Slightly more than my weekly allowance! While antimatter is the world’s most expensive substance, it holds the potential of being one of the most useful substances in the universe as well.

There is a substance in the world of leadership, business, life, and relationships that is a lot like antimatter. It is also rare and beneficial. What is it? ENCOURAGEMENT! … Equally rare and valuable, are the bearers of encouragement – ENCOURAGERS!

Encouragement really means to inspire, to en-courage, to bolster the spirit and feed the spirit. Unfortunately, many people—especially dudes—think of encouragement as something “soft.” Something women do. With kids. With other women. In fact, anecdotal data seem to suggest that women are better encouragers than men.

Yet either way, encouragement and encouragers, are like antimatter. Precious. Rare. Valuable. … Think about it. When was the last time, in your job, someone came by and encouraged you?

For every 1 encourager, how many naysayers are there? 3? 50? … Great leaders, like antimatter, are also rare. And they are not afraid to encourage others. Yes, there’s a time to be tough. A time to ask detailed questions. A time to challenge. A time to be cautious. Yes, there’s also a time to encourage.

David called to tell me there had been another quality issue. In fact, there had been several quality issues (all costly) in recent months and David, the quality director, and several others had been working no-stop to identify the root-cause and prevent its occurrence. They had worked hard and I knew they were making progress. They were on the right track. They were doing the right things. I could hear the dejection in his voice when he called. He “knew” I was going to yell at him for having a quality issue (and remind him of all the negative consequences). That’s what his previous bosses had done. That’s the way it worked in this fast-paced, highly competitive, bottom-line focused corporation.

“David”, I said, “how are YOU doing? You alright? What do you need from ME? How can I help? … Hang in there. I know y’all are close to finding the root-cause. Don’t give up. I believe in you and your team.” Yep, that was it. David later told me that he was speechless when he hung up the phone. He was expecting to get yelled at, instead he received encouragement for being on the right track. For making progress. Within a few days, the team identified the root-cause and put together a procedure to prevent its occurrence.

Encouragement. Rare. Exotic. Precious. Like antimatter, encouragement is MUCH more valuable than gold Add it to your leadership toolkit. Be an encourager. Look for the best in others. Encourage the encouragers (they’re having to swim upstream). Demonstrate and reinforce encouragement within your organization and you’ll see AMAZING things happen. Demonstrate encouragement within your personal relationships and you’ll see INCREDIBLE things happen there as well.

How has someone recently encouraged you? Who have YOU recently encouraged?


I’d love to hear your thoughts. The floor is ALWAYS open.

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