Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those in the field of education periodically have a unique opportunity; to serve as a student’s teacher at one point in our career, only to find that in a later point in time the student has become the teacher. Such is the case with Amy, one of my former students who returned to our community in 2006 as a teacher.   Of recent, circumstances have developed that limit her ability to serve as a teacher in the classroom, but ironically have enabled her to teach us more important lessons by serving as a role model of courage, resilience, determination and optimism.  Amy has brought people and communities together.  She is an inspiration to me and all those who have had the opportunity to be her student, colleague, friend or acquaintance. This week’s newsletter is dedicated to and inspired by her!

Let’s begin where we left off last week.  Posting on Linked-in, David Spungin’s article, How to Inspire Others by Finding Your Passion” considers the importance of finding one’s own passion prior to trying to inspire others.  He begins with an interesting thought, “At its core, inspiration is a transfer of energy, and if one is to transfer inspirational energy to others they must be inspired themselves…….how does a person find their own inspiration…….inspiration stems from one’s own passion”.  Spungin believes the more passionate the leader, the more inspirational they become to others who share the same ideals.  He provides a graphical and video example (The Block, The Shot, The Stop).  He also makes an interesting point about the self-sustaining nature of inspiration, “Leaders should understand that the energy that we bring to our environment is often returned back to us.”  He concludes the article by providing some ideas to help us find our passion and offering a challenge, “The world needs your leadership, My hope is that you find your passion, take the lead and inspire action in making the world a better place.”  Certainly a challenge to be embraced!

So beyond finding your passion, what other factors contribute to a leader’s ability to inspire others?  Susan Heathfeld considers that question in her on-line post, “Leadership Inspiration“.  She begins with a quote from the late Vince Lombardi, “Leadership is based on a spiritual quality;  the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow.”.  Healthfeld continues by reminding us that it is the leader’s actions not words that serve to inspire. It is the leader’s behavior that inspires others to act in the same way.  She then provides five (5) ways in which leaders can instill inspiration in those they lead:

Inspirational leaders feel and demonstrates passion for the vision and mission of the organization.

Inspirational leaders listen to the people in their organization.

Inspirational leaders connect the people in the organization to the actions and processes leading to the accomplishment of goals or final decisions

Inspirational leaders demonstrate their integrity and it is demonstrated on a daily basis.

To the extent possible, Inspirational leaders meet the needs of their people.

Finally, let’s consider inspiration from the perspective of service to others.  Toan Lam is a Vietnamese immigrant who left Vietnam soon after the fall of Saigon.  Mei Mei Fox, a contributor to Forbes shares Toan’s story and message in her post, “ This Immigrant Found his ‘American Dream’ in Inspiring Others to Give Back .  She opens by using one of his tweets, “Everything I do is connected to what I believe I was brought here to do – to inspire people to use their power to be better and do better for themselves and others.”  Toan arrived in America with his family at age 3.  They had $4 to begin their new life.  Today he is a successful TV journalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and motivational speaker.  His current project is the TruthDare podcast which dares people to live their truest life and use their power to better the world. Two other fascinating projects are Go Inspire Go, a nonprofit that produces stories about everyday heroes to inspire the hero in us all, and a related organization, “Community Heroes – Inspiring Action Through Kindness and Compassion”, which works with school children to encourage them to become agents of change.  The article ends with a powerful quote that should inspire us all, “I love nothing more than when a story connects with someone and shows them that no matter what they are going through, you are not alone and there is hope.  You are so special, There is only one you, Treasure your gift, Hone it, Use it to help others.  Service is the key to joy.

If there is anyone who has ever Embraced the Challenge, it is Amy.  In doing so she has inspired myself and so many more to reflect on our own lives and consider how we can give back to others and to the broader community.  There was a point in time that Amy was my student.  Today I am honored to say, she is now my teacher.

Embrace the Challenge my friends,