The word “inspire” derives from the Latin inspiraire, which means, “to breathe into.”
So, I’m curious:
What are YOU breathing into people?
I know. Kind of tough question. And if you can’t think of your answer right away, don’t sweat it.
WHAT you breathe into people isn’t as important as THAT you breathe into people.
Unless you have a high-garlic diet.
HERE’S THE REALITY: Being an inspirational person is combination of three elements…
1. The person you’ve become.
2. How people experience you.
3. How people experience themselves in relation TO you.
Unfortunately – despite your best efforts – you CAN’T inspire everyone you encounter.
Some people just aren’t inspirable.
No matter how hard you work to raise their receptivity.
No matter how many positive quotations you write on their dry erase board.
Not everyone wants (or is ready to be) be inspired.
And that’s fine. Your life’s work shouldn’t to inspire people.
Rather, your challenge is to embody the attributes of inspirational people.
Because THAT is the only way to increase the probability that other people will become inspired too.
Here’s (part 1) of a list of strategies for becoming the most inspirational person you know…
1. Be playful, but not to the point where people stop taking you seriously. People won’t listen TO, or be inspired BY, someone they have a hard time taking seriously. After all, it’s impossible to listen to someone if you’re too busy questioning that person’s character.
Here’s a revealing exercise you might noodle with: (1) Make a list of three people you’ve never taken seriously, (2) Write down what, specifically, caused you to feel that way, and (3) Ask yourself if YOU embody any of those attributes, and if that’s thwarting your ability to inspire others.
Your lack of self-awareness may startle you. What is preventing people from taking you seriously? How might you accidentally be diminishing the perception of your expertise? And what are you doing that’s preventing people from being inspired by you?
2. Break down your message into digestible, democratized bits. Inspirational people rarely overwhelm others with their knowledge. Digestible means this: If you have a lot of ideas to convey, chunk them down into small clusters. By spacing ideas effectively, they’re easier to digest. Otherwise people feel intimidated by a barrage of knowledge, which reduces receptivity.
Democratized means this: Deliver it in a way that appeals to the broadest audience possible. Enable multiple dimensions of your ideas to be pursued by the listener. Leave your stories open for new interpretations, conclusions and lessons.
This approach will compliment others’ contributions to your ideas AND help them work for their own ideas. How listenable are you? How are you pampering people’s short-term memories? And how do you break your message down?
3. Consistency inspires people. Mainly, because it’s hard execute and even harder to come by. So, remember two things: (1) Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness, and (2) Consistency, despite convenience and comfort, creates uncracked character – and THAT’S what is inspirational.
Check out The Official Guide to Being More Consistent or How to Run a Consistency Audit for a closer look at HOW to put this into practice. How is your consistency inspirational? What are you doing consistently that most people aren’t? And what kind of structure can you place around yourself to make sure you remember to be consistent?
4. Create an avenue for others to benefit from your unique gifts. Maybe it’s via your blog. Maybe it’s out in the community. Maybe it’s on the radio. Maybe it’s in the local newspaper.
The point is: We’ve all been given unique gifts. And our sole assignment during the short time we spend on this Earth is to return the favor by USING ours gifts to make the world more beautiful.
And the best part is, our usefulness isn’t just a form of worship – it’s also a form inspiration. Think about it: Do you know anyone with incredible gifts (who SHARES those gifts regularly) that ISN’T inspiring? Of course not. Because that’s impossible.
So, your challenge is to clarify your contribution. To leave this cosmic campsite called life better than the way you found it. To validate your existence by making passion palpable. And to take whatever unique gift you’ve been given and re-gift it by exploiting it in the service of others.
Interestingly, the word “contribute” comes from the Latin, contributus, which means, “to bring together.” What are you bringing together? What were you made to make? And what avenue will you use to help others benefit FROM and be inspired BY your unique gifts?
5. Don’t start doing something special – STOP doing something normal. Instead of immediately shooting down every suggestion people offer with an objection that proves how smart you are, just stop. Breathe. Then, leverage that opportunity as a teachable moment.
As my friend Chris “Genuine” Johnson says, “Most people have raging impulses to interrupt one another. Instead, show some restraint. Suppress conversational tension by waiting for your turn to share poignant insights.”
Suggestions: Be not seduced by the dark side. Curb the craving spew a steady stream self-glorifying wisdom that’s inherently impressive and interesting, yet obviously irrelevant and inapplicable.
And, learn to share your knowledge without showcasing it. Learn to present your ideas without hurling them. In their irregularity, such actions become inspirational. What normal things could you stop? What would be unlike you to do? And what could you do in this situation that would be the polar opposite of everybody else?
6. Evoke emotional responses. The word “emotion” derives from the Latin emotere, which means, “to disturb.” So, it’s not bad, it’s not good – it’s just a disturbance. A breaking of patterns. A shaking up of things. And if you want to use this practice to become more inspirational, here’s how:
Make your words piercing and disquieting. So much so that people squirm in their seats. Sure, it might be uncomfortable for a minute, but that’s part of the adventure. And the reality is, some people NEED to have a little disturbance “breathed into them.”
Richard Avdoian, my inspiring colleague, friend, mentor and occasional therapist, is a master at this practice. His words never fail to be provocative. Because of his background in psychotherapy, mental health and marriage counseling, Richard uses uncommon, unexpected words like “seductive,” “tranquilizer,” and “personhood” in everyday conversation.
Most people can’t help but lean in closer, listen – become slightly disturbed – and experience inspiration. How provocative are your words? How are you branding your language? And if you were charged with the crime of “Leadership with Intent to Disturb,” would there be evidence to convict you?
7. Exert your humanity. When you courageously endorse your own weaknesses, you demonstrate an acceptance of the imperfect humanness of others. In Alan Webber’s Rules of Thumb, he explains:
“We’re drawn to people who know who they are, who are comfortable in their own skins. Their sense of themselves makes it easier for us to know and trust them. It cuts down on the wasted energy and head games that too often accompany people in power who are at war with themselves.”
So, here’s a rapid-fire list for becoming inspirational through your humanity: Communicate less perfectly. Lead with vulnerability. Publicly celebrate mistakes. Acknowledge and embrace all aspects of who you are. Be willing to talk about that shadow. Practice radical honesty. Practice self-deprecating humor.
When does the feeling of formality keep you from communicating freely and honestly? Are you someone others can be vulnerable in front of? And how does your imperfect humanity inspire others to exert the same?
REMEMBER: You can’t inspire everybody.
You CAN, however, increase the probability of inspiration by molding yourself into the most inspirational person you know.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you breathing into people?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “7 Ways to Radically Raise Receptivity of Those You Serve,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
About the Author: Scott Ginsberg, aka “The Nametag Guy,” is the author of eight books, an award-winning blogger and the creator of NametagTV.com. He’s the only person in the world who wears a nametag 24-7 and teaches businesspeople worldwide about approachability. For more info about books, speaking engagements, customized online training programs or to rent Scott’s brain for a one-on-one coaching session, call 314-256-1800 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .