To Inspire

I was reading a book on education a while back, and one quote stuck with me in regards to teaching children:

Inspire, not require

It is much more effective, not to mention more enjoyable and energizing.  I’ve made the mistake too many times with my son assuming that assigning a task will produce a positive, excellent outcome merely because I required it.  Quite the contrary, especially with him.  He needs to have bought in to the purpose or the goal or intrigue of it all.  Essentially, he produces his best work or completes something more quickly when he is inspired or challenged.

I don’t think he is much different from anyone else.  If I’m honest, I believe we all work best, change, and grow when we are inspired.

The things that inspire me probably don’t inspire the next person. But that’s the beauty of inspiration.  It’s like magic. There’s a catalyst and a reaction, but often it’s a mystery how and when it happens.  We can seek out inspiration from certain people, places, books, or routines, but there is never a guarantee.  I guess we just need to make sure to have many potential sources around us all the time.

Some sources of inpsiration:

  • Books – Read biographies of ordinary people overcoming challenges. Indulge in some classic literature and be inspired by timeless truths and values.
  • Walks – I never regret going on a walk.  Any obstacle seems smaller underneath the vast blue sky. Nature and fresh air does wonders for the soul.
  • Conversations – Seek out people who you admire and respect.  Find ways to add value to their lives and ask good questions that allow them to share their wisdom and experience.
  • Hobbies – Art, music, sports, etc. We seem to think that artistic pursuits like drawing or making music first require inspiration, but often times, when they break up our normal routines, these more artistic hobbies can offer much inspiration and enjoyment.

Ways to inspire others (especially our children):

  • Set the example – Be what you hope to inspire others to be
  • Offer a valuable reward – Some people are just more naturally motivated by extrinsic reward.  Don’t manipulate, but use a worthy reward to inspire extended long-term efforts.
  • Communicate the bigger picture or cause – Other people buy in quickly when they know the overall purpose.  That is all they need to move forward with conviction.

Where do you find your own inspiration?  What have you found to work best to inspire your children? Please comment below.

For further reading on the topic of inspiring or leading others, check out Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

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