Before we get to the word “inspire,” let’s talk about sharing. Stay with me on this track for a minute.
Would you agree that most of us delight in giving a gift to someone? We may bake a cake, buy lunch or a drink, or present a little souvenir that made us think of someone. In diverse ways, we share our talents and/or funds to show appreciation, love, or the joy that person brings to our lives.
However, when the tables turn and we are given a gift, we often feel uncomfortable. We may delight in the gift, but we often feel uneasy or undeserving. Sometimes even embarrassed. Basically – uncomfortable.
Now, put those thoughts over to the left, but keep them accessible. Let’s talk about the two sides of ‘inspire;” the concepts of being inspired and being inspiring.
When we hear a great presenter or read a success story, we are inspired. When we see a friend or family member accomplish a goal, we are inspired. We are motivated mentally or emotionally. Our minds are activated. Our creativity begins whirling. We begin to analyze details of what we have learned or observed. We start imagining how we might adapt or adopt some of those actions. We develop new ideas. We become enthusiastic about something. We’re inspired!!
How do you repay being inspired? How do you pass it forward?
In a basic way, you could share the information that inspired you. In the larger frame of life in general, you can repay inspiration or pass it forward by sharing your life.
As Dame Mary Berry has said, “Life is all about sharing. If we are good at something, pass it on.” Best-selling author of books on self-development and personal responsibility, Cynthia E. Mazzaferro, adds, “I believe we each walk our paths so we can learn and share those lessons with others. I feel so blessed, recognizing that my life is only a mere extension of my life’s purpose.” Nearly 3,000 years ago, a religious writing stated, “In vain have you acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others.”
Contemporary and ancient thinkers all stated a similar concept: Be inspiring. Allow others to become inspired by something you do or have learned. Share both your accomplishments and the manner in which you were able to accomplish them.
Want an image to illustrate the fact? Nearly 175 years ago, America’s first true feminist, Margaret Fuller, stated, “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”
Now Back to Gift Giving
Could you admit the inspiration that motivated you and lit a fire under you was a gift? Did it warm your soul, raise you up? Did you feel the joy of obtaining a new idea and visions of possibilities rather than guilt or discomfort? You were receiving the gift of inspiration.
Let’s return to the thoughts you pushed to the left a few minutes ago. Think about it. While you often feel uncomfortable in receiving physical gifts, you delight in receiving inspiration.
While you find joy in giving a gift, why do you hesitate to be inspiring? Why do you shy from sharing your story, your knowledge and experience in ways that could be a gift to others? Why do you become uncomfortable when someone says you inspired them?
American writer and anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, said, “Sharing is sometimes more demanding than giving.” When we try to accept the fact that sharing our life can be inspiring to others, it can be demanding. It’s uncomfortable, difficult, stress-inducing. In a strange reversal of feelings, we love giving gifts, but are uncomfortable giving inspiration. And vice versa.
A Matter of Intent
I’ll admit there is a difference of intent in giving and receiving a physical gift and in giving and receiving of inspiration. The first is intentional, the second is often tangential to everyday life and unintentional.
Shall we be a bit more intentional in giving inspiration? Can we be open with our story, our knowledge, our experiences?
Our W.I.S.H. organization is “Women Inspiring, Supporting and Helping.” Could we collectively help each other become more comfortable in giving or sharing inspiration? Could we accept that we could be inspiring?
The organizational intent is to inspire each other. Let’s become more comfortable in doing our part on both sides of the verb.