Inspirational interludes

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

Who knows when inspiration will strike?

It’s amazing that mere words, stories, a collection of sentences can move us in a spiritual, psychological and physical sense. We might question whether we are caught in some conspiracy theory or a plot from a movie we’ve seen before or be cynical of a reaction to something which challenges a convention; but inspiration is an interesting phenomenon. And the more we know about the brain and the chemical and neural pathways and the affect on our mind that impacts on physical self, the more we understand the power of inspiration.

So how do you inspire? How do you get inspired? What do you do with it? How do you deal with it and who the hell cares anyway?

I see a lot of under-inspired people which is saddening. I see people who are inspired and who share that with people only to be knocked down, bruised and battered so that they sense check their inspiration and may choose to let it go because someone else took them on about it.

I read a lot of books. At the same time and on devices and in paper format. I watch a lot of video footage from TED and the likes. I pick up blog posts and social media feeds. I get a news feed and get involved in conversations.

I think I am an inspiration hunter. I seek it out. I thrive on it. I get energised, excited and imagine all sorts of possibilities. I don’t think I’ve ever been any different but certainly becoming a member of the workforce of the UK PLC had a dramatic impact on me in terms of inspiration. My loved ones continue to inspire me. My friends, business partners, associates, colleagues whatever you want to call them inspire me. The dreaded category of thought leaders often inspire me (NB I have discernment in this and not just taken on board by evangelists, showmen and pretenders – I know a false deity when I see one).

So let’s take the books thing. I read a lot at the same time. I just do that. So I don’t jump from book to book wanting to “Gary Hamel” everyone or do a “Dan Pink” on people. I tend to take a range of thinking and stories and insight from books and mash them up (how trendy am I?) into a playlist of my own. I add my own stories of experiences from my own life and professional pursuits and those of others who have shared them with me. I do so to inspire. Because I was inspired and because I love to see others inspired.

Some people might say “oh look, he’s read Lencioni so he thinks every team is dysfunctional, has 5 of them and needs shaping like a load of lego into what Patrick says”.

Except I don’t. There are times when the letter of the way someone has cleverly synthesised research that the model or applied thinking needs to be put into practice to get the benefits sought. Largely, I use this thinking to spur people into thinking about things differently and, yes you’ve guessed it, to be inspired.

So why the hell don’t we try and inspire at every turn, with every word, with every deed?

OK there’s not much inspiration in transactional exchanges is there. Or is there.

So here’s my tiny story.

I queued for a coffee from a well known chain and the guy in front of me was ordering. He changed his order, he looked very solemn and he had clearly had a bad day (or so it seemed). So he grumped through the order and despite the Barista’s best attempts at making a light conversation he grunted and sourly passed over his tenner to pay for his drink. I witnessed this and felt the negativity.

The Barista then looked at me forlorn. I commented “what was going on there, I have no idea”. I wanted to acknowledge that she transacted 3 perfectly good drinks to order in the expected way and tried to ensure this customer was made to feel at least human in the exchange. I was overly polite and nice in my order and was attentive to how I conducted myself in that exchange.

As I left the coffee shop, I made sure I thanked the Barista and wished her a good evening.

Now I don’t need a “nice person” medal. I don’t even know that I wanted to inspire that person but I wanted to mildly restore someone’s sense of worth and value. So yes, I did want to inspire her.

We have a lot to compute and do in our working lives. We may not always be civil, accidentally be brusque or unattentive. However, why we can’t look for inspiration and give inspiration in almost everything we do is a little beyond me. And I don’t mean make a big deal out of things that don’t need a big deal but I hope you get my drift.

Inspiring people can move their own particular mountains. Acts of (random) kindness can make people feel better about their fellow humans and the world and can be infectious.

So, whatever’s inspiring you, might also inspire others. Share it. Give it away and you get double the impact of what you had in the first place. You create energy, kinship, a sense of possibility. You create a chemical, emotional and electrical impulse that is good for the head, heart and soul.

Don’t judge others inspiration as insipid, outmoded “so what’s”? Provided people aren’t inspired to do harm, then their inspiration is theirs and you shouldn’t take that away from them. You can add to it with additional, linked and maybe even challenging inspiration.

Before you think it, I am not advocating you shy away from calling out dangerous acts/thoughts or naivety brought on (potentially) by inspiration. If you knock it down though, you run the risk of merely points gained in the “let me tell you what IS really inspiring” game that no-one ever wins or really should play.

The point to this musing is about being aware of your actions. If you have to deliver something tough to people, you’re more likely to get something from them when you can inspire them to alternative actions/thoughts/solutions than you are to tell them, castigate them or embarrass them.

How inspirational are you? Are you even aware that you might be? Why would people be inspired by you and what inspiration do you need to lead a more fulfilling way of being, living, working and loving?

I don’t know about “be the change you want to see” being relevant here it’s maybe more be the inspiration you know you should be. You could be. You deserve to be. We need you to be.

  1. hrmannz says:

    Blog post of the week. I’m inspired.

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