We all have someone who inspires us. If you’re lucky, you have several. And hopefully, some of them are people you actually interact with on a regular basis, and aren’t just famous people or historical figures. I am blessed with a host of people who inspire me, from Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek to my good friend Ken Rutkowski, my brother Ron, and many more.
But it can also be little things, brief encounters, that inspire us. I recently was picking up a rental car, and the Hertz clerk had such a genuinely cheerful attitude that he inspired me to brighten my own outlook. If we’re paying attention, inspiration can come from many places.
But what this blog is about is who you inspire.
We all have this ability. We all interact with family, co-workers, customers (patients) and various strangers throughout our day. Inspiration is a gift we can give to others. And it doesn’t have to be something life-changing. You’re not going to barrel through your day handing out epiphanies left and right. But you can spark something. You can uplift someone. You can set a good example, or do the unexpected.
And what really inspires people? Our actions. Sometimes it’s our words, or maybe a Facebook post. But mostly, it’s our actions.
An act of kindness. A moment of patience or forbearance. Or generosity. You can inspire someone when you make someone laugh when they’re down, and show them the positives that are all around them. You can demonstrate a better attitude (like my friend at Hertz).
A simple act of courtesy can inspire people, often without you even knowing them or realizing the impact you’ve had.
The opportunities to inspire are all around us. Grab a few.
I do this deliberately. I try to inspire my employees. My friends. The people I lecture to. This is not some ego trip I’m on. I don’t see myself as hugely inspiring, but I do acknowledge my ability to have some impact on people. And so I make the effort. Not to force-feed my viewpoint, but to show someone a different path. It’s still up to them to take it. Inspiration is not about making anyone do anything. It’s an invitation.
And I don’t just see this as a nice thing to do. I see it as important to do, for you as well as others. For your own quality of life, your deeper happiness and satisfaction.
So I’m going to invite you to do something unusual. Since it’s the time of year for resolutions, I’m going to suggest a different approach, which is this: take a few minutes, sit down and write your own eulogy.
Yes, actually write your eulogy. I know that sounds a bit morbid. But I’m pretty sure you’re going to die someday, so relax and go with it. This is a chance for you to dive a little deeper into this concept of inspiring others. The method to writing this is quite simple. All you have to do is envision what you will be remembered for.
This is not for anyone else to read. This is for you, written as if you were reading it at your own funeral service. (Ideally, many, many years from now!)
This is your chance to be honest, even brutally so, with yourself. What do you think your life will have meant to people? What would they say? How do you think people would describe you? Critique you? What would they miss about you? Would they miss you?
Will it be that you always had a fancy car and a big house, or was it that you were generous to a fault?
Were you adventurous or timid? Were you fair-minded or close-minded?
Did you choose love when it was difficult to do so, or did you fall into bias, prejudice, judgment and superiority?
Were you kind to animals but mean to people?
Exceptionally well-known, or an exceptional parent, or an exceptional complainer?
Did you have more friends than you could count, or more money than you could count?
Did you win, or help others to win? Did you crush the competition, or toast together with your competitors for a game well-played, whether you won or lost?
Did you inspire people to be better, to love more, to share more, to be honest and trustworthy?
Did you win arguments, or affection? (Side note: there is no such thing as winning an argument. I’ve tried. It’s a delusion.)
Did you avenge every wrong, resent every slight, hold grudges endlessly, or opt for forgiveness?
Did your words of encouragement outweigh your criticisms?
Did you laugh enough? Did you pray enough?
Did you make a fortune? Or make a difference? (Not that you couldn’t do both.)
As you get toward the end of your eulogy, write what you would most want to be remembered for. Remember, this is for you. Not to show other people. Don’t worry about the grammar. You are the only audience.
Once it’s done, seal it and read it next January 1st. See what’s changed. Maybe you inspired yourself.
In any case, I hope you decide to make this year an inspirational year, where some of your actions are deliberately chosen to inspire people. I wish you a joyful, challenging, and inspiring 2016!