This time of year, many of us are reflecting on the past 12 months, thinking about what we’ve done well and what we’d like to learn from, as well as where we’d like next year to take us.
Whether you’re a leader, manager, solopreneur, small business owner, parent, or anyone who wants more impact and to inspire others, there’s one New Year’s Resolution that can improve everything you’re focused on right now. That’s learning how to inspire, uplift, transform and engage people so they can become their highest and best selves, contribute at their highest level, and reach their most exciting goals and visions.
How do we inspire others? I’ve seen that there are five critical ways that the most inspiring people have honed how they operate and interact with the world, so that they stand as a lighthouse for us, shining their light to make our way even clearer.
Below are five ways you can become more inspiring next year, and bring out the best in yourself and in your family, community, work culture and organization:
Be kinder and more compassionate.
Our world has undeniably grown colder, crueler and more disparaging with every minute. The internet and the anonymity of online interaction has only exacerbated this trend, and the speed of work and intensive pressure we face has dehumanized our interactions. Many have become more impatient, stressed, angry, and downright cruel. Here’s a deeply saddening example of online cruelty, along with a beautiful, inspiring response from Lizzie Velasquez about the cruelty aimed at her.
The opposite of cruelty is kindness, and the rarity of kindness today means that when we see raw, pure kindness demonstrated in front of us, especially to those who’ve been cast out somehow or rejected, we’re often stunned and moved to tears. The reality is that most of us desperately crave kindness, and continually search for it in vain.
What to do? Ask yourself, “Where am I being stingy with my kindness? To whom have I withheld my kindness, care and compassion, and why is that? What would do I need to heal to access more kindness in my heart?”
The more kindness you can foster every day in your heart, the more you will inspire others to heal what’s wounded , mend bridges, love and accept who they are and become more of themselves, and foster more loving and compassionate relationships and communications. And that inspires and heals the world.
Don’t take it all so seriously.
With the intense pressures of our lives today, we’ve forgotten how to laugh. The more you can distance yourself from your fragile, defensive ego and uptight personality that takes everything so personally and seriously, the more you’ll inspire people to feel free be who they really are, authentically and openly. Authenticity enlivens people, because they feel they can finally be free to be open, make mistakes, laugh at their foibles, and move forward boldly integrating what they’ve learned from their mistakes to build a better, happier life and livelihood.
What to do? Take some time out each day to tap into your sense of lightness and humor. Breathe deeply, meditate for a few minutes, talk a walk, and let your lightness and easy-going nature emerge. Take a 15-minute break from the grueling pace of your day, and remember that it’s not all so serious , pressing or life-and-death. Plug into something that makes you laugh from your belly every day.
Become a riveting storyteller.
Nothing inspires and uplifts us more than a riveting, personal story that is both universal (in that it speaks to all of us about what we want more of) but also powerfully individual, filled with specific life details that weave together a picture that teaches us something about what it is to be human.
Do you know how to tell a powerful story and craft a compelling presentation – about who you are , what you’re doing, what your organization is striving for, and what you care about most in the world?
What to do? Check out Nancy Duarte’s riveting research and watch her TEDx talk on the secret structure of great talks. Then take some time to craft your own riveting personal story, and share it widely.
Stand in the shoes of the one you judge most harshly.
Nothing is uglier than someone who judges, tears down, demeans and diminishes other people for being different. You simply can’t be an inspiring individual or leader if you gossip, criticize, and tear down others who aren’t like you.
What to do? Stop using your language as a weapon, and decide you won’t hate or disparage those who aren’t like you . Stand in the shoes of the very individual who makes you so angry and frustrated. Try to understand exactly how and why you’re different, and find a way to embrace that difference rather than tear it down. Learn about the six dominant action styles humans use to take action towards a goal, and identify your specific action style. Understanding your style will help you see how and why others are different and why we need those very differences to make up a whole and healthy society and world.
Bravely honor and stand up for what you believe in.
Finally, we’ve all heard stories of individuals, leaders and managers who, in the face of terrible challenge and crises, have become more brave, honorable, ethical and accountable. Here’s a powerful example of this – Vietnam POW Lee Ellis shares what his harrowing POW experience taught him about leadership and engaging with honor.
In times of crisis, these inspiring leaders know that all they have to cling to is their honor, integrity and personal accountability for how they will react to the world. And they won’t compromise that for anything. For a life-changing read on this topic, read holocaust survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning
We’ve also heard the rare stories of a leader or manager whose employee made an enormous, costly mistake, yet they choose not to fire the individual, but stand behind him or her instead.
“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”
Do you know many leaders who are truly brave? So many today don’t actually lead – they follow. They pursue (with cowardice) what they think they have to in order to look powerful, save face, and protect their own skins.
An inspiring leader doesn’t blindly follow the rules, but follows his or her own heart, spirit, intuition and soul in their work. And the ultimate outcome is that they’re brave, inspiring, and transformatively powerful in all their decisions, communications and actions.
What to do? Examine where you’re not being brave in how you work, act, and communicate. Decide to finally stand up for what you believe in , and speak powerfully about what you value. Find a way to become more personally accountable rather than blaming others for what isn’t going well. When you become braver, and rise up for yourself, you’ll inevitably find that what isn’t working around you, and people who are dishonorable, cruel, and lacking in accountability, will begin to fall away.
Kathy Caprino, “5 Surefire Ways To Inspire Others More Deeply And Powerfully Next Year” Forbes.com, December 16, 2016. Accessed via: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2016/12/16/5-surefire-ways-to-inspire-others-more-deeply-and-powerfully-next-year/#3a41a25236bf