I was in a room twice within the last two weeks when everyone has been asked to name someone who has inspired them. It’s a good exercise - why don’t you try it now? And then think about why they inspire you. The first thing to observe is that some people really struggle to name anyone at all. I find this incredibly sad and it is a poor reflection of our society and one of the reasons that our younger generations can appear lost and rudderless sometimes.
“Tell me who has inspired you in either your business or personal life” is one of my standard, if perhaps unusual, interview questions. I am always saddened by how often the answer is someone the interviewee has never met. Richard Branson is given as the answer around 50% of the time. And the other common answer is ‘my mum’ or ‘my dad’. Nothing wrong with our parents providing inspiration. In fact, many of us dream of having parents that provided that, but there is a need for more people to be an inspiration to others. And this is my challenge to myself and to you this week. Are you inspiring others?
In the exercise mentioned at the top, the reasons of why those named inspired people were their self-sacrificial nature, their humility or their compassion for others. In other words, those who inspire are those that put themselves last and put others first. Interesting, as those lorded generally in the world are those who have amassed personal fortunes for themselves often trampling over others to do so. It seems that these people aren’t remembered as dearly as those who put their neck on the line for others.
I’ve been reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography again recently. If ever there was a man who suffered for other’s freedom, then he was that. What a man! I’ll finish with a quote from him:
“What counts is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”.