July 18, 2022

Everyone already carries around everything they need to start


Inspiring people is easy.

All you have to do is be sincere, listen to people, prove you care, raise your expectations, share your failures, show your vulnerability, tell a compelling story, have empathy, keep your promises, give them a vision of their future selves, appeal to their ego and show them the rewards.

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

However, the power to inspire others is rare. It’s not a skill you learn how to do in a weekend leadership retreat. That makes it sound so transactional. It’s much more complex and spiritual than that.

My mentor once told me that inspiration is incidental, not intentional. Inspiring others isn’t the target, it’s the reward you get for hitting the target.

Interestingly, he gave me this advice when I spent a week shadowing him at his publishing company. It was truly one of the great paradigm shifting and perspective changing experiences of my life.

Because simply watching him live his life and do his work was enough for me. That’s all the inspiration I needed. Jeffrey could have said not a word to me the whole week, and I still would’ve walked away a changed man.

My understanding of disciplines like creativity, leadership, collaboration, marketing, sales, they were never the same after that trip.

And it’s funny, during my visitation, we’d put in a full day at the office, go out to dinner, walk around the city, and then I’d rush back to my hotel room and spend another three hours writing. Because at that point, my brain was on fire.

Not because my mentor used some seven step strategy to inspire me. But because he modeled what a fulfilling creative life could be. Incidental, not intentional.

That’s how inspiration works.

Hell, the word literally means, to breathe into. It’s not a transaction, it’s a transformation.

Someone will have an idea floating around in their head for a while. And then one day, they’ll see another person doing something, and that will make their idea explode. But now the tension has become so strong that it feels like they can’t take it anymore.

And if they didn’t go out and do something themselves, then they will lose their mind.

Bottom line, all human beings are matches waiting for a spark. Everyone already carries around everything they need to start.

The question is whether or not they will encounter a leader who, by virtue of modeling what a fulfilling creative life could be, will cause that explosion to happen.

If somebody shadowed you for a week, what would they have to watch you do to walk away a changed person?