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Motivation and Inspiration

Inspiration and Motivation

Someone once told me that if I wanted to motivate my team, to give them all a cup of coffee.  The statement struck me as strange when I first heard it.  What could motivation have to do with a cup of coffee?  I asked myself.

Motivation is Short Lived

Motivation is like caffeine.  It lasts for a few hours.  For instance, often when watching a football game, you will see a coach on the sidelines trying to pump the team up and get them going. Typically, that works for the next few hours and the team goes out and plays a tremendously productive game.  Motivation works.  Just like coffee, it might be what is needed in any given situation.

But motivation doesn’t necessarily have a lasting effect.  Oftentimes we get caught up in the moment and do our best during the moment, but afterwards tend to slip back into our normal routine or habits.  If you are in any type of leadership position – manager, supervisor, coach, parent, executive, or whatever – you have to ask yourself how do you make sure that your charges are working or performing at peak levels, all of the time.  How can we take the energy from a motivational experience and sustain that energy on an on-going basis?  That’s where inspiration comes in.

Inspiration is Long Lasting

Inspiration enthuses.  It arouses others to produce their finest quality work on a consistent basis.  An inspired person will motivate themselves daily, without assistance from any outside influence.  They see every new day as an opportunity to build a masterpiece.

So again, there is nothing wrong with motivating others.  But what you really want to do is inspire others to greatness.  How do you inspire?  Well there are a number of ways, but here are a few suggestions:

  1. You inspire others with a vision.  People will not follow you if they have no idea where you are going.
  2. You inspire others by going first.  A good leader never has to ask “how’s the water?”  A good leader is always the first in the water.  General Omar Bradley was often called the “Soldier’s General”.  Why?  Because instead of being at some safe outpost he was there, with his soldiers.
  3. You inspire with your heart.  John Maxwell once wrote that “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  4. You inspire with your acts.  Selfish acts promote greed and lead to degradation. Selfless acts promote altruism and lead to inspiration.

While there are many ways to inspire others, always know that inspiring others is the key to bringing out the greatness in others.


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