I hear and I even use the word "inspired "so often these days. I hear parents say they are inspired by their kids. We have all been inspired by a TED Talk or some other motivational video. Maybe a great educational leader such as Sir Ken Robinson or Michael Fullan has inspired you. We sometimes hear that a quarterback or an actor in a movie has given an inspired performance. We say we are inspired by the generosity of others and we use quotations, sometimes in our email signatures, to attempt to inspire ourselves and others.
But, really, how often are we actually inspired to the point that we ACT?
Can you describe the last time that someone inspired you so much that you made a change in your life or work? When was the last time someone said something to you that motivated you to change your behavior or routine? Not just talk about it or think about it, but actually do something?
I was recently inspired by the words of a fellow Frisbee player. No, he didn't give me a "Knute Rockne" type motivational speech before a game or even offer any advice on how to be a better player. In fact, this inspiration had nothing to do with Frisbee at all.
A few of us were in the throws of planning a Frisbee tournament. It was very loosely organized in the early stages. As part of the process we decided that we could keep it simple by having people bring their own lunch and snacks.
There were lots of good reasons for this and anyone who offered their contrary opinion was usually swayed within a few minutes. Except Daniel and Kevin. Who both insisted on food being provided at the tournament.
They made a strong and passionate case. Fair enough. In an attempt to solve this quickly and efficiently, I attempted to inspire them to take action by suggesting that if they wanted food then one of them would have to step up and take charge of the food. Kevin did not bite at all. Daniel quickly deflected. I brought the conversation back around to the point and, strengthening tone slightly, insisted that Daniel take care of the food. In a sort of "ok, I am too busy, but..." tone, he said he would. In a strange way he almost made us feel like he was just waiting for us to ask.
Success! -- food was taken care of and I didn't have to do it!
In the minutes that followed, a number of people were giving Daniel good advice and suggestions on how to handle the food. Barbeque, Catering, Subway, Fruit, Granola Bars, ... et cetera. Lots of really great ideas. As flow of ideas died down, we looked to Daniel for comment.
Daniel's response brought a quick and stunning silence to the group. He drew his hands in front of his body to create a big circle and said: "Here's what I am thinking. I will get a big pot of soup." The pause that followed was punctuated by lots of "looks" and rolling eyes.
The daily temperature in Trinidad is usually around 31 degrees and the thought of a "big pot of soup" after two or three games of Frisbee was inspiration enough for me to pick up the phone and order lunch.
Maybe some day I, too, can use the "big pot of soup" strategy to inspire someone.