Be the change you want to inspire…

Your reputation, your character, your behavior will inspire people more than anything else. The only way to call the best out of others is to expect the best from yourself.

When you look back, do you have fond memories of someone who inspired you to be a better person or challenged you to achieve something greater? Such people have a major impact on the lives of others, but not all inspirational people are born that way.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French aviator and author of “The Little Prince”, wrote, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Sometimes you need to do both. You need to enlist and organise people to do a specific task-to build a ship according to specs, on time and on budget-and sometimes you need to activate people’s desires and stand aside. Who knows, you may be surprised by what they do.

If you want to be a positive influence capable of inspiring your loved ones to become better versions of themselves, please consider these ways to inspire people around you.

1. Care.

If you can’t show a person that you genuinely care about them, do you think you will be able to inspire them? The answer is a resounding, “NO!” Show people you care in your words (“How are you today?”) and your actions (small acts of kindness go a long way).

2. Earn trust.

If a person you know and love tells you a secret, it stays between you and them. Trust takes a long time to build, but it can be destroyed overnight, so don’t take part in workplace gossip or unnecessary drama in your social networks so you can be a positive influence that people are unafraid to talk to.

3. If it’s not positive, don’t say it.

It’s easy to criticise people, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Think about it: how do you react if someone insults your intelligence, makes fun of your outfit, or criticises your performance? Whether the criticism is justified or not, I bet you get upset. No one likes to be criticised, so if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say it at all.

4. Stand your ground.

It’s easy to let life-stress shake our foundation of inner-strength as human beings, but if you want to inspire people around you, learn to stand your ground through thick and thin.

5. Admit your mistakes.

Everyone has at least one glaring weakness or two, so accept your short-comings to humanise yourself so people can relate to you on a deeper level. Show me a person who claims to be without fault and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

6. Be an active listener.

Anyone can hear the words other people say, but not many people can actively listen and comprehend those words to fully understand the meaning behind them. Make eye-contact if someone talks to you about their problems and ask follow-up questions to show them you care about what they are going through and want to understand where they are coming from as well as you can.

7. Treat everyone equally.

We are all equal human beings regardless of our gender, politics, race, religion, and other factors. Love and care for people without consideration of these irrelevant factors that have no influence on the quality of a person. Treat others how they want to be treated, no matter their background, to inspire trust and confidence.

8. Acknowledge contributions of others.

No matter how wonderful you are, you’re just one person, so I’m sure others have contributed to your greatest successes in life. If you’re a writer and receive a compliment about a particular passage that one of your friends inspired, say something like, “I so appreciate that, but you know what’s funny? It wasn’t even my idea! My super talented and brilliant friend _______ gets full credit.” Acknowledge the contribution publicly if at all possible to show people you’re humble and thoughtful enough to give credit where it’s due.

9. Keep your promises.

If you volunteered to help with a cause and you get invited to a movie or concert, you need to keep your word, no matter how much more fun the other thing may be. It’s easy to ditch our responsibilities when a more interesting opportunity presents itself, but this is a sure-fire way to destroy the trust you’ve worked so hard to earn, so you’d be wise to keep your word no matter what.

10. Set people free.

Don’t merely give people step-by-step advice, but instead give them the freedom to figure it out by themselves. No one likes a micro-manager. If you’re asked for help, deliver a rough guideline to get a person moving in the right direction, but intentionally leave something left to the imagination so they will have the freedom to fill-in-the-blanks. When a person discovers they are capable of figuring things out by their lonesome, they will discover they are more powerful than they ever thought possible.

The Bottom Line?

Now that you know how to inspire others, what will you do differently? Inspiring others is all about taking action – and there’s no better time to begin.

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