Look To The Past, Present, And Future For An Inspiring Recharge
If you want to be a more inspirational leader, as do most of my clients, you have to be an inspired person. There's no way around it. I've worked with leaders who've come to me with a goal of being more inspirational, and I always ask them why they've set that as a goal. In the case of the leader who's been told by superiors that they need to become inspirational, or by subordinates that they just aren't inspiring, I advise that it's a goal that can't be achieved in a business-as-usual way. You have to focus inward, and find personal inspiration, before you can turn on the passion in others.
It's made me sad, over the years, to see so many promising young leaders (and business owners) who just don't seem to have any passion - for anything. They're all very good at what they do... but by the time they get to me (or any number of my fellow executive coaches), they've come to a point in their lives and careers where they're just not into it. And the first thing they want me to tell them is how they can find their passion.
You can guess how this conversation proceeds: I have to remind them that no one else can tell them what to be passionate about, or how. But I can give them a few ideas about where to look for their own personal inspiration. If you are looking for inspiration, here are three places to start: your past, your present, and your future. But it's not so much where you look, but how, that will make the difference.
Take a look at the past week, month, year, and decade in your life and career. But don't allow yourself to see the defeats. Instead, if you want to find inspiration, focus on the many dragons you've slain. Don't count up your routine accomplishments - don't be distracted by claiming victory for the things anyone could've achieved just by showing up. Don't focus on the easy stuff. Instead, look at the things you've done that you never dreamed you could've. Focus on the challenges you faced which, at the front end, looked like fire-breathing dragons that would've devoured the stoutest hero. Then take an inventory of the dragon blood on your personal sword, and of the dragon heads mounted on your personal wall. You're a dragon slayer! No dragon's devoured you yet. And that ought to give you some self-confidence, at least, and possibly some inspiration.
Look around at your life today. But don't focus on the problems you still have to solve, or the routine leaky toilets that make you heave a deep sigh. Look at how blessed you are! Remember how tough life is for others. Don't listen to envy-mongerers who wield class warfare as a political weapon, and who'd have you believe you're part of a "99 percent" who've been ill-used by the rich one-percent. If you're an American, or even one of my readers in many of the other well-off "Western" nations, realize that YOU are part of the luckiest one percent on the planet. Things are tougher now than they were in the past, and tougher than we might make them in the future... but things are far easier for you and me than they are for millions of others around the globe. You have a lot to be thankful for... focus on that, and find inspiration in your life as it is today.
Finally, close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine an inspiring life ahead. Cast yourself into the future, three or four years from now, and ask yourself what you're doing to keep your own flame burning... and to ignite passion and inspiration in others. What delightful things await you? To what do you have to look forward? Why can't you have the inspiring future for which you were created?
Do these things, and do them with a serious and open mind, and see if you don't ignite or rekindle at least a little passion and inspiration inside yourself. And if you do, see if that doesn't make you get some new feedback... about how you're starting to be seen as an inspirational leader, and someone to whom others look for a positive boost in their outlook and performance.