Who Inspires You?

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Who or what inspires you? The answer  is connected to your values.  Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something creative.  Values come from our own stories.  Imagine for a moment that as a child you had to overcome a disease or illness to complete your education.  There is a good chance that one of your values is Achievement, Passion or Recognition.

If inspiration is about being mentally stimulated to do something, then there is a very good chance that the person that inspires you either has a similar story and / or a similar set of values or is smart enough to really tap into your values.

What does this tell us about leadership?  Leadership is about directing or motivating others to complete a specific task or goal.  If inspiration gets us moving and our values live at the heart of the motivation central processor then it makes sense to tap into those at the right time.

So how do we inspire others? A few thoughts? Let’s use wireless technology to help us understand inspiration more.

1. Vulnerability: Leader you go first.  Your story, your values and your failures are easy to access “wireless networks” for your people.  Your mistakes are definitely easy for your people to access because we all make them, so why not go ahead and own those mistakes and be better.

2.“I” and “We”:  Know where your “I” starts and stops and know where your “We” starts and stops.  In other words, know yourself, don’t let that stress and anxiety be like a virus that infects your ability to be “I”. Just because the anxiety exists or even if you are feeling it does not mean it has to impact your strength, courage and trajectory.  Your vision is your preferred reality and it will not become real if you allow this virus to infect this vision.

3.Anxiety Kills Inspiration: Your goal can never be to not have anxiety or be around it.  However, it can be a goal to increase your capacity to handle anxiety and stress and not let it impact your vision.

So back to the original question, who inspires you? Here are my top two inspirational people:

1. My Dad: Yes, that is right.  He inspires me because he had a simple vision: “Make math education meaningful to his students”  He wanted to take a subject that many spurn and make it fun, engaging and something to master.  He inspires me because after two or three failed books, he just kept “Following his heart” and became the author he is today.

2. Frank Basile: Frank is an inspiration to me for several reasons.  His story is very compelling. A modest beginning to a philanthropist.  A leader that wrote a simple letter to Gene B. Glick and found a job leading property managers.  His values come out in his story: Generosity, Achievement and Service.

Both of these individuals tap into my inspiration network by their story.  Their story creates connectedness and inspiration for me.

So, thanks Chris for all this what does this have to do with me today as I sit in my cubby or my corner office.  A few questions:

1. How would you measure your vulnerability with the people you lead? Are you just showing up with data and  hoping to push your team forward?

2. How well do you embrace, unleash and see the potential in the different personalities and values of others? I call it Individuation.

3. How do you talk about the people who have left your organization?  If negatively, it hurts your culture.  That does not inspire, it actually demotivates people from staying on your bus.

4. Do you know where your “I” starts and ends?

5. Who inspired you? Why?

The best speakers, leaders and managers know how and when to utilize this skill to help propel others to action.