The Incredible Power of Inspiration

There is no greater gift you can give another human than inspiring them to reach for dreams they could not imagine or follow their dreams and accomplish the impossible.

I coached a client a few months ago that I will never forget. She was not native to the US and spoke somewhat broken English. She was trying to find a job here locally and came in looking for help with her resume. On the surface, all I had to do was create the resume for her. I worked with her for two sessions and after the second session, we were about 95% done. When she showed up for her third session I started talking to her about how we were going to finish her resume and then plan our action steps moving forward; practicing her interview skills, applying for positions etc. She quickly stopped me and said, “No, I’m done.“ I was quite taken aback. “What do you mean, You’re done?”  Her reply literally gave me goosebumps: “I was so excited about this new resume we created, that last week I used it to apply for a position that I really, really liked and … I got the job. I start on Monday.  It is my dream job. I just came to say thank you.“  I’m not ashamed to say, we both got a little teary-eyed for a second.

That interaction is burned into my memory because it demonstrated so well the incredible power of inspiration. What she asked for, was a resume. What I gave her, was inspiration. Almost without realizing it I gave her the hope, faith, self-confidence and motivation that she needed much more than a resume. It was inspiration she needed to pursue her dream … and accomplish it.  It was a great reminder of the incredible power that one person has to shape the life of another.

That experience was also the moment I vowed to make inspiration a constant focus in my relationships with everyone around me every day. To learn more about it and to try to find opportunities to inspire someone in some way at every opportunity I have.

So what exactly is inspiration?

Inspiration is a combination of hope, excitement,  self-confidence, faith, positive energy, and motivation. It is helping someone see the “art of the possible”. It is the ability to help someone envision a future that is so incredibly exciting and energizing that they are ready to pursue it with full abandon and no reservations. I love the description in the dictionary: “To influence and impel” In other words,  to inspire another person to drive positively forward with energy and excitement.

But what’s in it for me?

It’s a little sad to me that some people would even ask that question. And to be completely frank, if you’re asking that question, you’re not being very inspiring at the moment. Sorry.   That said, here’s my answer. Ralph Waldo Emerson said this: “Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour onto others without getting some on yourself” I would claim the same goes for Inspiration.  You cannot inspire others without inspiring yourself. And the more you inspire others, the more successful you will become in whatever you do. Call it Faith, call it Karma, call it “What goes around, comes around”, but I completely and fully believe that when you help others be successful you will become more successful yourself over time.

How can I be more inspiring?

I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s not easy. Even though I focus on it and try to practice it daily, I’m only successful at it a small amount of time. Here are five ways in which you can start.

  1. Be 110% Authentic. People are not inspired by fakeness. It also means you have to have a deep empathy and truly care about the people you are seeking to inspire.  Most people see right through inauthentic hype and find it completely demotivating, which is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. See my article about Authenticity here. If you can’t be truly excited, energized, hopeful and confident FOR them, then wait until you can be,  before trying inspire someone.  Authenticity also means you are not afraid to be open, honest and vulnerable about your failures, how you have overcome them and what you have learned from them that you can share with others. You are all in. Warts and all.
  2. Be bold and courageous.  Timid, fearful people are not very inspirational. The leaders who inspire us are strong, bold individuals who often have overcome massive adversity. They have conquered their fears and stand up for what they believe with conviction, often against overwhelming odds. The difference, however,  between everyday bold, strong, courageous people and ones who truly inspire us, are these four words: “And so can you”.  Not only do their entire demeanor scream “I can, and have, conquered the world” they also personally connect with you saying “And so can you”.  “You can accomplish what I have and I can show you how”.
  3. Be visionary. I go into much more detail in my article called: “Vision: The Uncommon Career-Life Accelerator” but inspiring people dream big. They have grand, big visions for themselves and those around them … and they often accomplish them. And they are not small, easy visions. They are challenging visions. They are John F. Kenedy’s vision to put a man on the moon “Not because it is easy, but because it is hard”. And here’s the important part: Their dreams and visions are not self-centered; they are bigger than themselves. They are for the betterment, growth, and healing of their fellow human.  Even when they do dream for themselves, they believe that a rising tide lifts all boats. They find a way to benefit, uplift and empower others in their own mission.
  4. Be focused and determined.  Inspirational people often have incredible focus, determination, and grit. They do not give up in the face of adversity. They believe so strongly in their mission that they are able to bear through almost any obstacle to achieve it. They do not allow distractions to derail their mission. They have an intensity of purpose that is almost tangible … and even more importantly, contagious. When you become absolutely and almost inhumanly focused,  determined, and “on mission” you eventually develop a “gravitational pull” that attracts others to you. You inspire the people around you to be part something bigger than any one person.
  5. Be the inspiration you desire to inspire. In John Maxwell’s five levels of leadership the pinnacle of the leadership pyramid is called Personhood. Who you are. The best leaders in the world inspire those around them, not because of their position, their power or what they do but because of who they are, and what they represent. If you are someone who is naturally courageous, focused, positive, energetic with big dreams and bigger accomplishments, you will naturally inspire those around you. If you are constantly negative, pessimistic or sarcastic with small thinking, trying to inspire others will be near impossible.

Inspiring others is one ingredient in my formula for creating the Rocket Fuel for your career will propel you to levels never seen before.  As you are working with people around you, seek to find opportunities where you can provide that type of inspiration, hope and rocket fuel for someone else’s career. Do that and watch how, not just your career, but also your happiness, fulfillment and job satisfaction takes off like a rocket.

In closing, let me ask you this:  Did you find this article inspiring? I hope so. How sad and ironic would it be to write an article about Inspiration … that was … not inspiring? Let me know, either way. Also, let me know if this article inspired you to become more inspiring yourself.  Can you imagine a world where inspiring those around you was everyone’s focus every day?  I can.

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