A hand holding a sparkler rising above water
A hand holding a sparkler rising above water

Inspire Someone

Paul Kiernan

Inspiration has long been connected to the supernatural or the divine, making it hard to pin down or define.

Inspiration has long been connected to the supernatural or the divine, making it hard to pin down or define. Do we wait around for God to blast us with a bolt of inspiration, or can we, mere mortals, be inspired by the day to minutia that makes up a life?

Yes, we can be inspired by anything or anyone; we don’t have to wait for Zeus to clave us in twain with a lightning bolt. Even more exciting, we can and do inspire others with our actions, ideas, and life experience.

On top of that, inspiring someone is excellent for you, them, and the world.

Let’s take a look at inspiration and why it’s important to inspire others in work and life.

What is Inspiration

There are several definitions of inspiration that we are all familiar with. One is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Another is simply: the drawing in of breath, inhalation.

If you’re a wordy, which is like being a foodie without having all those dishes to do, you can follow the word down a rabbit hole and find the definition I love. It comes from Middle English, 14th century: to fill the heart, mind, and body with grace.

To fill with grace. Doesn't that sound magical? Well, it should because inspiration and inspiring others is a rather magical undertaking.

What Happens When You Inspire Others

A black wall with Dream Big written in chalk.

You build closer relationships, you help others achieve greatness, and you learn a lot about yourself in the process.

You learn selflessness. One of the keys to inspiring others is to put them first. You don't inspire others to seek reward or recognition. When you’re genuinely inspiring others, you don’t put yourself at the center; you step aside, provide the fuel and let the inspired person rise and succeed.

You make people’s lives better

When you inspire people, you give them better self-worth. They feel part of something bigger and believe they can help their fellow man. You can give someone purpose when you inspire them.

When people are inspired, they truly live, which is different from just surviving. You can help them see their lives with more intent and purpose. You help someone have a fuller life.

You give them confidence

When you inspire someone, they feel seen and purposeful. That is a confident feeling that they can turn into action and improve productivity.

Also, an inspired person is more likely to inspire others, which is good for the group and the individual.

You Discover Yourself

No one sets out to inspire others; it may be an underlying hope, but people find inspiration on their own. But, if you inspire someone and they go on to do great things, you can examine what inspired them and learn something about yourself.

This can lead to self-examination and even self-revelation. Maybe once you’ve inspired someone, you will take yourself more seriously and see the value in what you bring to the table.

You also learn that you can or have trouble being selfless. Because even if you’re not trying to inspire someone, you must put others first and yourself last. So you can learn about your need for attention and praise. Is that helping you achieve your goals, strengthen your relationships, or even be inspired yourself?

Inspiring others is tricky.

Being an inspiration doesn’t mean you always win or get the highest score; It means you are truly able to inspire others.
Suzy Welch

How to Inspire Others

It sounds confusing to inspire others, but you don’t know you’re doing it, and you really cannot set out to inspire, or you're not being truthful to yourself or your goals. So, how do you do it? Here are some ways you can inspire those around you.

  • Lead by example. Be kind, be considerate, and don’t be rude or abusive. Work hard and avoid being lazy. Setting an example for others to follow by being a good person is inspiring.
  • Listen. Listening is harder than it seems. If you want to inspire others, be a good listener. This means don’t go into situations with preconceived notions or opinions. Listen to each person and deal with them as individuals, not like, “oh, I’ve heard this before.” And understand that sometimes you just need to listen, to hear the person, not offer solutions, just listen. Listen to them fully, and don't think of the clever or correct answer. Be present and listen.
  • Communicate well. When speaking to a group, make sure everyone is with you. Check in, ask questions and invite questions. Stay patient, and if you have to repeat things, maybe it’s not the listeners; maybe it’s you. Are you being clear, speaking to everyone’s level? Do not move on until you know that everyone is with you. Sometimes this means prodding people or reading the room, checking body language. Are people present? Are they squirming because they don’t understand and are afraid to ask? Be aware and make sure those people are seen, heard, and not left behind.
  • Be your best self. Consider what qualities you find inspiring in others and try to be your best self, especially when you think no one is looking. If you’re always presenting your best self, you may reach and inspire more people, and you won’t even know it.
  • Direct the focus to others. When inspiring others, you know it’s not about you. It's recognizing the good, the worthy, and the talents of others and making sure the light shines on them. Standing before the group and touting your own accomplishments is not inspiring. But mentioning others, especially those not usually singled out, inspires.

It’s Not About Recognition and Reward

Inspiring others should never be about personal gain. Never. To truly inspire, you should want others to succeed where you haven’t, go further than you have, and become great. To truly be inspirational, you don’t need to take credit or even be recognized for your contributions. If you’re doing it for recognition or reward, your intentions are not pure; everyone will see through that. You will never inspire, and chances are you’ll start to repel people.

A good leader or a great teacher is working to make themselves obsolete. No one wants to stay in school forever. An inspiring individual works to see you go further, rise higher and achieve more. They want you to be free and find your own ideas and inspire others.

If you need recognition, if you find yourself saying things like, you never would have achieved that without me; then you’re missing the point of inspiration; you’re actually an impediment to inspiration. Inspiration is selfless and free. Once you bring your own needs into the situation, you’ll never inspire.

A woman dancing, floating above a field of tall grass

Work and Life

All of this can be applied to your business and your leadership skills. Being inspiring can make for a more productive workplace and happier employees. All of that is great. But it’s not the final goal.

Imagine being the type of person who leads with their best self, who is an example, and who people feel confident about. They don't plan or stage these attributes; they live that life. That inspires. If you’re doing it for personal gain, people will see right through that, and they will realize that you’re selfish, not to be trusted, and are not interested in the growth and wellness of others.

Inspiring others doesn't always have to relate to work or the bottom line, it can simply happen, and someone’s life can be enriched and improved because of your selfless inspiration.

How can you inspire others? How can you make small changes in your behavior and outlook that can transform you into an inspiration? And when you find it, what will you do with it?

Be your best self and inspire others; your life will be far richer for it.