“To inspire” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something. It comes from the Latin “inspirare”, literally meaning to breathe or blow into. It had religious origins of “breathing in the Spirit”.
When we have been inspired we will feel galvanised and stirred.
I play tennis every Sunday morning at 7.00 am for 8 months of the year, with my tennis buddy, Julian, on some public courts. For years we have always known that we will be first onto the courts, except occasionally during the Wimbledon Fortnight, the world’s premier tennis tournament.
All of a sudden people become excited by the tennis and scramble around to dust off the cobwebs from their tennis racquets. After two weeks, when the tennis stps dominating the media, the inspiration seems to go and racquets go back into the garage or loft. The “breath” is no longer being blown or more likely folk have turned to something else.
I can be just as fickle as the next person with money occasionally being wasted on unread books or exercise equipment waiting in the garage to be used.
Unless the “breathe-in” continues you have not been really inspired, just tickled. What inspires you to continue? Or who inspires you?
Many of us will have had a teacher when we were at school who inspired us. They may not have necessarily been the best educator, but they engaged with you as a young person and showed you possibilities and opportunities that perhaps you hadn’t seen before.
A few years ago I reflected how a particular youth leader had such a positive and profound influence on me when I was a teenager. He was a local Doctor who gave up his spare time to run all sorts of events and activities. He had a significant impact on many people’s lives beyond his Doctor’s Surgery. Through example, giving of time and quiet advice he helped me “tack” through those important, formative years. He was probably unaware of it. I thought, had I really thanked him? So I wrote to John, who is now senior in years, to express my gratitude for what he had done for me. For those who are working with young people, never underestimate your potential to influence for good. It is a positive “influenza”!
Inspiration, like influenza, is caught not taught. It may be caught by what somebody says or does. It may be an idea, a deed, a conversation, a view or it may even be something written. It may be caught in a second or over many years. Albert Schweitzer said “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
Don’t under-estimate the need for you to be inspired. If you are inspired, then maybe your people will be.
This article is an excerpt from my upcoming book – “Leaders’ Map”. It would be great to get your feedback, so please do share your comments here or on Twitter or LinkedIn.
You may also want to check out the Leaders’ Map App which is now available on the Apple App Store.