Give the Gift of Inspiration

 In Inspiration

My friend sent me a hilarious “THEY-HAD-ONE-JOB” meme last week.

I laughed out loud — and immediately texted it to another friend who’d get a big a kick out of it, too.

Something about sharing a joke makes it funnier. Richer. More meaningful.

The same goes for inspiration.

My recent blogs have been about inspiring ourselves. Yet inspiration is also a powerful way to motivate, support and connect with others.

Chances are, if a message touches you, it’ll strike a chord with someone else in your world, too. In fact, you give something more life  and multiply its impact by thoughtfully passing it on.

Inspiration with Intention

Sometimes, it’s our kids who teach us the lessons. When my (now-adult) son was in the Boy Scouts, he zealously earned his badges. One after the other.

I never had to get involved or supervise. That is, until he set his sights on becoming an Eagle Scout — the highest position in the Scout organization.

At first, he approached his required project with great enthusiasm.

But then something shifted. I found myself “reminding” him to do his project tasks. Checking his progress. Prodding him along. (Frustrating both of us in the process!)

When I realized I was trying to motivate my son because I was eager for him to earn his Eagle Scout status, I backed off and let him drive the process.

Later, when the time was right for him, my son successfully earned his Eagle Scout ranking. His project was amazing — and he did a fabulous job making it all come together.

What did I learn?  Well, you can’t just sprinkle inspiration around like fairy dust and expect it to work magic! Inspiration has to fit the situation and the person on the receiving end.

Over time, in my experience as a leader, I’ve discovered several other important guidelines for making inspiration stick.

Motivate for the right reasons. Whose interests do you really have in mind? Are you pushing someone to do something they’re not ready or prepared to do? Are they open and receptive to your encouragement? Or are you trying to inspire them because you think it’s what a “good mom,” “helpful friend” or “strong leader” should do?

Help people understand “the why.”  It’s usually not enough to offer a few hurrahs. People will feel more inspired when they understand and appreciate the value of their efforts.

Be consistent in your messaging, tone and attention. Offer more than a one-off pep talk or occasional check-in. People are apt to feel most motivated when they experience your sincere, ongoing support.

Continue to the finish line. Can you imagine if a coach gave up on motivating their softball team after the first four innings? Not the best coaching strategy if the goal is to win the game! In the same way, when you’re encouraging someone, don’t stop midway. The last leg of any project is often when they most need a boost.

Trust. Share your belief in the person and their ability to accomplish what they’ve set out to do. One of the best ways to motivate someone is to help them recognize their own strengths.

Inspiration: It’s Personal

Inspiration is a gift. When you pass it along to others,  you’re sharing something you hope they’ll enjoy and appreciate.

And you get your own boost of positive energy just by thinking about it!  Ooooh, I bet Zendaya  would love this quote! This podcast really motivated me … I bet Ren would find it helpful, too.

Like any other gift, inspiration deserves thoughtfulness.

Would you give everyone on your holiday list the same gift? Probably not. Grandma might appreciate warm, fluffy sock slippers. Yet your 15-year-old son might toss them into the recesses of his closet, never to be seen again!

And so it goes for inspiration, too. What makes one person tick falls flat for someone else.

I learned this lesson early in my leadership. For weeks, I’d carefully planned a team workshop, inviting each person to share one story about overcoming a challenge. What had they learned? What strengths had they developed because of it?

We went around the conference table in clockwise order. Soon, the room was brimming with tales of growth, resilience and inspiration. Most people loved it and found it very motivating.

But not everyone.

One team member appeared downright bored and antsy. The messages weren’t hitting home for her.

Later, in private, I asked her about it. “If I’m being honest,” she said, “it felt too ‘ooey-gooey’ for me.”

Of course it did. This individual was the most logical, linear thinker on the team. She thrived on a fast pace and tight deadlines. What really lit a fire under her, she confided, was to know her work was appreciated.

Related: The Positive Power of Recognition

A quick email, a thoughtful handwritten note or a well-deserved shout-out during a team meeting went much further for her than a famous quote. Noted!

I was grateful for her honesty, because it opened my eyes to the personal nature of inspiration.

Power Challenge: Pass It On!

From offering small pearls of wisdom to judiciously sharing your own experiences, a little inspiration can go a long way.

You don’t need to give a TED Talk or deliver a keynote speech to inspire others (although if that’s your jam, go for it!).

Instead, harness small, everyday opportunities. Be creative!

For this month’s challenge, see if you can pass along some inspiration to two people: one in your professional life and one in your personal life.

Not sure where to start? Use the ideas below as a springboard for exploring ways you can ignite that spark in others.

Send a link to a podcast or article. Include a little note, telling the person why you thought they might find it interesting.

It could be as simple as: Hey Jen … I thought of you when I read this piece. What a success story! May it inspire you to stay the course as you power through the last stretch of your certification training.

Offer words of encouragement. Let someone know you’re rooting for them. Your message doesn’t have to be fancy!

Send a text punctuated by a few select emojis: You’ve got this! Pass along a quote: “We can do hard things!” Share a funny meme of a cartoon character doing a victory dance.

Set an example. Be your best authentic self. When you work — and live —  in alignment with your values, it often inspires others to do the same.

Share your own experiences. Especially if you’ve walked the path someone is currently navigating. It might help the other person feel validated and understood. You’ve collected great knowledge, wisdom and experience … pass it on!

Inspiration Fuels Inspiration

When you pass along something to inspire or motivate someone, you do it for them. Still, it feels good to know you’ve helped another person, even if in the slightest way!

Notice these feelings — and harness them to inspire yourself to keep on giving these intangible gifts. Not only to others, but to yourself, too!

Looking for a motivational speaker for your next event? Carla energizes and inspires attendees to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.

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