By JEFF HADEN
To succeed, almost everyone – whether business owner or employee – must not only stand out but also be inspirational. Leading requires the ability to encourage, to motivate, and to inspire.
But what if you’re not comfortable speaking to groups. . . or even to individuals? What if finding the right words is something that always seems to elude you?
That’s okay. Instead of using words, inspire others through action. Here are some genuine ways to be inspirational – and to have a lot more fun in the process.
1. Don’t try to talk. Just do.
Words are often quickly forgotten. What most of us say isn’t particularly interesting – but what we do can definitely be.
So spend your time doing instead of talking. Actions are memorable. Actions are inspiring. Actions inspire other people to follow your lead and take actions of their own.
And that’s especially true when you. . .
2. Do unusual things.
Draw a circle and put all your “stuff” in it. Your circle will look a lot like everyone’s: Everyone works, everyone has a family, everyone has homes and cars and clothes. . .
We like to think we’re unique, but roughly speaking we’re all the same – and similar isn’t inspiring.
So occasionally do something really different. Backpack to the next town just to see how many people stop to offer you a ride. (Don’t take them up on it, though, unless you appear to be in distress, the people eager to give you a ride tend to be the last people you want to ride with.)
Try to hike/scramble to the top of a nearby mini-mountain that no one climbs. Do yourself a favour and take water along. Compete with your daughter to see who can swim the most laps in an hour. If you live in my house you’ll lose really, really badly.
Or work from a coffee shop one day just to see what you learn about other people. . .and what you learn about yourself.
Whatever you do, the less productive and sensible it is the better. Your goal isn’t to accomplish something worthwhile. Your goal is to collect experiences.
Experiences, especially unusual experiences, make your life a lot richer and way more interesting – to you and to other people. You can even. . .
3. Do the occasional stupid thing.
I know. You’re supremely focused, consistently on point, and relentlessly efficient.
And you’re also really, really boring.
Remember when you were young and followed stupid ideas to their illogical conclusions? Road trips, failing the cinnamon challenge, trying to eat six saltine crackers in one minute without water. . . you dined out on those stories for years.
Going on “missions,” however pointless and inconvenient, was fun. In fact, the more pointless the mission the more fun you had because that made it all about the ride and not the destination.
So do something, just once, that adults no longer do. Drive eight hours to see a band. Buy your seafood at the dock.
Or do something no one thinks of doing. Ride along with a policeman on a Friday night. (It’s the king of eye-opening experiences.)
Pick something that doesn’t make sense to do a certain way. . .and do it that way. You’ll inspire other people to take chances of their own – and to not worry about what other people think.
4. Embrace your own cause
People care about – and remember – people who care. Stand for something and you instantly stand apart – and inspire people.
But. . .
5. Don’t ever talk about your cause.
People who brag are not remembered for what they’ve done. They’re remembered for the fact that they brag. (That’s why the first – and second – rule of doing good is to never talk about the good you do.)
Do good things because those things are good for other people. Don’t worry: the less you say, the more you will inspire others, because they’ll know you do what you do only because you care.
6. Get over yourself.
Most of the time your professional life is like a hamster wheel of resumé or curriculum vitaé padding: you avoid all possibility of failure while maximising the odds of success in order to ensure your achievement graph tracks ever upward.
Inevitably, that approach starts to extend to your personal life too.
So you run. . . but you won’t enter a race because you don’t want to finish at the back of the pack. Or you sing. . . but you won’t share a mic in a friend’s band because you’re no Adele.
Or you sponsor the employee softball team, but you won’t actually play because you’re not very good.
Personally and professionally you feel compelled to maintain your all-knowing, all-achieving, all-conquering image.
And someday, without noticing, you’re no longer a person. You’re a resumé.
Stop trying to appear perfect. Accept your faults. Make mistakes. Hang yourself out there. Try and fail. Then be gracious when you fail.
When you do, people will be inspired, because people who are willing to fail are rare – and because people who display grace and humility, especially in the face of defeat, are incredibly rare.
Jeff Haden is an author of more than 50 non-fiction books and a ghostwriter for innovators and business leaders. To engage with him, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.