Here we go with my first serious post...hold on tight!
Last weekend my wife Molly attended a reunion of scholars at Ball State. It was an impressive group of extremely smart people that had earned full tuition scholarships. I was so proud to realize what an elite group Molly was a part of. During the afternoon session, local businessman, Wil Davis was the keynote speaker. A portion of his commentary focused on effective leadership, and he challenged everyone in the room to "inspire someone today, inspire someone everyday". These words have stuck with me this week, and with each face to face encounter I've had since, I've attempted to do just that. But I seemingly fail to inspire only to possibly motivate.
I've never thought of myself as inspirational, but believe that I can be motivational to others. I motivated my wife to work an unheard of amount of hours this month so that we could use those earnings for a vacation, and she did it! I motivated my clients to make good investment choices, even when they were scared to do so. And hopefully I motivate my children to also make good choices, but that's probably a given, since I'm presumably still their hero.
So if motivating comes easy, why is it so hard to inspire? Think about those that inspire you, and why? I came up with a pretty short list and here it is...
1) My wife. Molly inspires me to be a better parent every day. I am in awe daily of her patience and stamina. We both love our children with all of our being, but how she battles through their yelling, screaming, tattling, battles, tears, schedules, feedings, diapers, illness, and so on is truly the work of someone God created to be a mother. She would say that she falls short of this accolade, yet I know there is no greater role model for my children.
2) My parents. They each inspire me in different ways.
a) My father is the most unselfish man I know. I've never once taken this for granted, but I always know who I can call if I need something. And I know the answer will always be yes. For years he has fixed every broken thing in my life from holding me with a broken heart to driving 400 miles to fix my broken car. I could blog a lifetime of stories about him. Everyone of which would include an act of kindness without a single resenting comment or hesitation to help anyone. My father inspires me to give of my time freely and willingly; to help others in need no matter how inconvenient it may be or how tired I think I am.
b) My mother has a similar quality, but it goes a step further. My mother never went to college, and never was the bread winner in our family, yet she was and still is the savviest consumer I know. She can stretch a penny twice as far as most can stretch a dollar. As I look back at what my parents earned while I was growing up, I'm amazed that I never found myself longing for more, or thinking we were poor. My parents made my sister and I feel very rich as if there was nothing more we could ever want. I realize now that this was in large part due to how well my mother managed our finances, and the tireless hours my father worked day and night. My mother inspires me to do both of these things. I want to work hard and manage my finances better so that my children can grow up thinking that they have all they could ever want without realizing the sacrifice I make for them.
3.) My children. My children have been quite ill these last two weeks. And I've had at least one occasion to just sit and hold each of them in their weakened state. Their innocence and vulnerability inspire me to be more child-like. I live such a guarded life, and with the restraints that I put on myself, I often feel the way that they look. Miserable. As the medicine kicked in and LIFE began to refill their bodies, they were unstoppable in their ways. With each time they ask to go outside and run and jump and play, I'm inspired to simplify my lifestyle to match theirs.
So what have I concluded. Sorry Mr. Davis. You can't inspire someone TODAY, you can only motivate someone TODAY. In order to inspire someone, you must LIVE your LIFE in a way that is as fulfilling to others as it is to yourself. I'm inspired only by those that inspire me. Not through their words, but through their actions, and certainly not just today, but EVERYDAY.
I ADVISE U to live an inspirational life!