Successful Sunshine Coast businessman and mentor, John Shadforth (centre), believes in the power of encouragement. Here he is giving students from the University of the Sunshine Coast bursaries as part of the foundation's program.
Successful Sunshine Coast businessman and mentor, John Shadforth (centre), believes in the power of encouragement. Here he is giving students from the University of the Sunshine Coast bursaries as part of the foundation's program. John McCutcheon

Power of the positive

MAGIC happens when someone is encouraged to follow their dreams, or given encouragement.

 Watching a person go from feeling helpless about their situation to seeing a sparkle of hope and excitement ignite in their eyes and manifest throughout their entire body, is priceless.

 Their dream or vision is given life and energy along with a knowing that it can be achieved. That moment in itself is a gift for the giver and the receiver.

   Successful Sunshine Coast businessman and mentor, John Shadforth wants to make the world a better place and believes it is absolutely possible.

 He set up the Encouragement Foundation in 2007 to achieve just that. He believes if enough people are given encouragement, hope and inspiration throughout their life whilst uplifting others in return, the world will be a better place.

   The aim of The Encouragement Foundation is to empower people with the message of encouragement, give financial assistance to Australian students and reduce poverty in third world countries.
   A number of students from the University of the Sunshine Coast received small scholarships this month on behalf of The Encouragement Foundation.

 The funds help pay for textbooks, course fees and living expenses during their studies. An overwhelming response was received from the students at the university launch of The Encouragement Foundation this year.

   Andrew Pentland Executive Officer of the university foundation at USC said, “The funding is important but just as important is the encouragement these awards provide students. It lets them know that someone else is interested in their progress at university.”

   It all began for John when a speaker at a personal development seminar changed the way he looked at things, simply through his words of encouragement. This enabled him to understand how something so simple could make such a difference to a person’s life.

   “I used to be a negative worrier but soon realised there is a world of abundance for anyone who is encouraged to develop their true potential,” said John.  

    Through books and seminars he also realised the importance of goal setting, affirmations and visualisation.

 He studied marketing and selling and learnt how to speak in front of crowds after joining Toastmasters, which gave him the courage to conduct his own marketing and business seminars.

This led him to a successful career in the property industry for more than 30 years.

   Knowing how much personal development books helped and inspired him, he started buying them in bulk and giving them away to people he felt needed them.

   “The web came along and I realised that I could create a box of books that went on forever that I could give away, but so could you, through The Encouragement Foundation website,” said John.

   The foundation is a non-profit organisation where members are sent encouragement prompters each month containing inspirational messages, which can be forwarded to others.

   The foundation was initiated for many reasons, one of them being his son Stephen.

 It was through Stephen’s words of hope and determination after losing his leg in a helicopter accident four years ago that gave John the strength he needed, to help him through it.

 He also had an urge to better himself and to help people who were worse off than him.

   John believes each individual is equally valuable and that everyone is entitled to feel self worth and to be optimistic that their dreams and aspirations can be achieved. He also thinks that everyone has something to offer the world.
   One of his goals is to lift 10,000 people out of poverty in the immediate future and for The Encouragement Foundation website to remind people to focus on encouraging someone on a regular basis.

   “If we could create a million acts of encouragement every year that would be pretty awesome,” said John. He also hopes for the possibility of a ‘World Encouragement Day’.

   “Success to me is to recognise that you are fortunate enough to have people, family and friends around you, who are supportive.

 To focus on the good things in life, to stop and smell the roses and to understand we live in a world of abundance. To enjoy nature and get joy out of the simple things in life,” said John.

 He also considers success as being able to care for yourself, your family and be able to contribute back to society.

   Robert Dickson a retired developer is the other half of the Shadforth Dickson team.

 He and his partner Elizabeth have joined The Encouragement Foundation and set up Encouragement House, where funding is used to build school hostels in East Timor so that children that live in remote districts can receive an education.

 This enables the children to live in the hostel until their education is completed, giving them a life and future of opportunity as opposed to one of poverty.

   The children live 37 km from the school in one of seven remote rural villages in the Lolotoe district. To travel that distance by truck, takes four hours and costs them $6, which they cannot afford.

   The aim is to build six hostels each accommodating 40 children. The first hostel is now complete, ready for the beginning of the school year in 2010.

 Live-in house parents will take care of the children and all food, uniforms and educational supplies are provided with the help of sponsors.

 Robert and Elizabeth attended the official opening of the first stage in East Timor last month.

   “It is a great pleasure to be a part of it because we can physically see how it benefits the children,” said Robert. The project has also created jobs for the local community in Maliana.

   “That’s the beauty, they all got paid and we bought all materials from the local area. There were people everywhere working on it,” said Robert.

   Encouragement House initially require 40 sponsors to donate $250 each year, although some people have donated up to $5000 to help with construction costs. As there are no administration fees, 100% of donations will benefit the children.

   The total cost for the first stage is approximately $50,000US. To complete all six hostels to accommodate the 240 children will cost $320,000US. The aim is to build one hostel each year and they hope to have all six completed by 2014.  

   “You get more satisfaction building this, than you do making hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s surprising but true. I’d like to see this project replicated. It will certainly change a lot of lives,” said Robert.

   The Encouragement Foundation creates resources, empowers individuals and provides opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise.

 To support them you can sponsor the website or make a donation to one of the projects such as Encouragement House, by contacting John on (07) 5491 1344 or sending an email to

   The foundation was created because John believes encouragement is the ultimate gift so powerful that it can change the way we think and feel, breathing new hope and enthusiasm into people and communities throughout the world.

 Joining and giving someone encouragement is free. If you would like to join The Encouragement Foundation or find out more go to

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