What does it take to inspire others?
It’s a thought-provoking question that strikes to the very heart of the qualities we most admire in others.
The qualities we strive to cultivate in ourselves.
But what are those qualities, and how do they show up?
They may already be present in your life without you knowing. Because as we’ll see, some of the most inspiring people do so without even trying.
This article will share the clear signs you have an innate ability to inspire others.
So let’s dive in.
1) You lead by example
It’s far more inspirational to show rather than tell.
What I mean by that is:
Rather than telling people the best way to live, or simply talking the talk, you walk the walk.
Nobody likes a know-it-all.
That’s why you can have the best ideas in the world, but if people feel lectured by you, they’re less likely to listen.
You inspire people by showing them a good example rather than simply instructing them.
You embody your beliefs and attitudes, and they are reflected in your daily life.
2) You are a compassionate communicator
Inspiring people communicate clearly and fairly.
Significantly, they are also compassionate in their approach.
So what does that mean?
It means that you aim to create stronger connections and relationships when you speak to people. And to do that you put care and concern at the forefront.
You choose to use positive action language as opposed to negative. Aka, you explain what you would like someone to do, and find constructive ways to ask for it.
For example, rather than saying “stop ignoring me!”, you might say “I’d appreciate it if you would put your phone down when I’m talking to you so that I feel like you are listening to me when I tell you about my day”.
Even when you need to have tricky conversations, your nonviolent communication approach helps you to avoid painful conflicts.
It can sound strange to think of our words as being violent. But we all know that words can cause serious hurt.
3) You take a non-judgmental approach toward people’s differences
It’s an obvious point, but one certainly worth making:
When we feel judged, we feel excluded. And this combination is about as unmotivating as it comes.
To inspire others they need to feel safe and included.
And a non-judgmental approach toward other people’s differences is what helps cultivate a sense of inclusion.
Rather than vilify or demonize people who are different, you seek to better understand them.
4) You do what is right, rather than what is easy
It’s easy to look the other way when we see injustice in the world — whether that be big or small.
Let’s face it:
Doing the right thing can be inconvenient. Especially when it involves sticking your neck out for someone when you don’t have to.
But some of the most inspirational figures throughout history — people like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King — refused to take the easy route.
We admire them for doing what was right rather than what was easy.
You are prepared to stick up for others when you see wrongdoing. You won’t compromise your own principles for the sake of an easy ride.
In this way, you inspire those around you to do the same.
5) You have causes close to your heart that you think are worth fighting for
It doesn’t really matter what it is that you care most about, what matters is that you care.
It could be human rights, environmental issues, grassroots projects, gender equality, or 1001-worthy things.
But the fact you are passionate about something larger than yourself is important.
Getting behind good causes even encourages others to do good themselves.
Because, as we’ll see next, this type of altruism can inspire those around you…
6) You extend warmth and goodwill to everyone you meet
At its heart, this inspiring trait is simply one of kindness.
Research has shown time and time again how it is one of our most admired characteristics in someone.
Because scientists have discovered that kindness is totally contagious.
Studies showed that when we show an act of kindness toward someone else, they are likely to pay that kindness forward.
Not only that, but when we see others behave in kind ways, we are more likely to follow suit.
For example, if someone knows their neighbor has donated to charity, they are more likely to increase their charitable donations too.
As associate professor of psychology at Stanford University and kindness author, Jamil Zaki explains in Scientific American:
“In a set of new studies, my colleagues and I highlight a broader flavor of positive conformity. We find that people imitate not only the particulars of positive actions, but also the spirit underlying them. This implies that kindness itself is contagious and that it can cascade across people, taking on new forms along the way. “
Small acts of kindness can feel so humble that you are probably unaware of most of the impact of your compassion on the world.
It may not feel particularly heroic to be friendly to your waiter or smile at the homeless person you pass on the street.
But we should never underestimate its effects. Because spreading kindness in this world is one of the most inspirational things any of us can do.
7) You’re enthusiastic
Enthusiasm is powerful.
It translates into a type of energy that the people around you feel. And that energy is infectious.
Think about it:
When you spend time with negative or pessimistic people, it can quickly start to feel like a drain, right?
You may even notice your energy feels heavier. You go home feeling more exhausted.
And the opposite is also true:
If you take an eager and animated approach to life, chances are you are inspiring those around you without even realizing it.
8) You see the best in people
Faith is a miraculous thing.
The placebo effect highlights this. It’s more than just positive thinking, believing in something creates physical changes in the body that have the ability to strengthen and heal us.
That same belief can strengthen other people when we put our faith in them too.
That’s why, when it comes to inspiring and motivating others, simply believing in them works wonders.
When you choose to see the best in someone you show them your trust and offer them your respect. And this is one of the first steps to bringing out their best.
In the words of author George M. Adams:
“There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I do not care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause”.
9) You challenge people
Of course, inspiration doesn’t always come in sweet and fluffy ways.
Often in order to grow we need to be challenged too.
Perhaps challenged to rise above our self-imposed limitations and strive for more. But also challenged about our way of seeing things, our beliefs, feelings, or ideas.
You aren’t afraid to question. Even if that means making a few waves.
But in doing so you are encouraging others to push their limits and think outside the box too.
10) You hold your hand up when you’re wrong and you take responsibility for yourself
Here’s an important thing to remember:
Inspiring people don’t always get it right.
They’re not superhuman, so they’re not perfect. But they don’t have to be either.
Rather than trying to appear infallible, real role models strive toward bettering themselves.
And growth demands we take an honest look at ourselves. We need to be prepared to recognize when we’ve made a mistake.
That is the only way we can take full responsibility for ourselves and in the process cultivate greater self-awareness.
It’s hard to inspire others if we are teaching them to bluff their way through mistakes. Or never back down when they realize they’ve got it wrong.
Inspiring people are happy to admit their errors and make amends. And in doing so they set a good example for all of us.
11) You’re always happy to roll up your sleeves and get involved
Inspirational people don’t just sit on the sidelines.
As leaders, they aren’t simply instructing from a distance. No, they get directly involved.
Maybe it’s taking part in some sort of activity, or offering a helping hand.
You pitch in and share your skills, energy, and time with your family, friends, and the community at large.
12) You don’t shy away from obstacles
It’s lucky that you aren’t afraid of a little bit of hard work, because life often presents challenges.
We can either give in and admit defeat or take them on.
And if you are the type to rise to the occasion, then you are surely an inspiration to others.
Because it is the example of people that keep on going, despite difficulties, that teaches us the benefit of resilience.
In pretty much every inspirational success story we hear, someone has had to overcome failure first.
By not shying away from obstacles, you prove to those around you that with effort you can overcome and prevail.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
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