As I recover from knee surgery, I’ve been paying attention to inspiration: finding my own to get through some tough physical therapy sessions. In the last week, there have been various references, especially through Facebook, from friends and family to inspirational stories or actions. I started thinking about what inspires people and why it inspires. Inspiration, along with motivation, is a large driving force behind leadership and goal accomplishment. As leaders, we look to inspire others, but what does that mean? The definition of the word “inspiration” from dictionary.com is an inspiring or animating action or influence.
I believe that the animating action or influence is what we strive for as leaders. Leaders work through actions, behaviors, talents or words, to provide an example that motivates others toward a desired goal. The truth is we cannot force others to do things they choose not to do. Every single action people make is a choice; the objective is for people to make good choices! As leaders, we need our teams to choose to do their individual parts to support the entire group. That is what inspiration does – provides us with the internal strength to make choices.
Inspiration is a very personal thing. What inspires me may not inspire others. In my case, I am inspired by a former college classmate of mine who has been on the brink of death more than once and keeps fighting back. I am inspired by my husband who endured a brain tumor with subsequent surgery; he has worked hard to overcome his challenges in amazing ways. I am also inspired by my children, who have faith, trust, and innocence in the world around them – I want to see the world through their eyes. My inspirations provide mental strength for me to work harder in my own life. It is that mental strength, an individual internal spark, which leaders look to tap into when inspiring their teams.
CEO, The Professional Development Team