I am going to go on record with something today, and you can certainly choose to agree with me or disagree with me: I believe there is a massive difference between inspiring someone and being an inspiration. Why do I say this, you ask? Well, let me tell you. And, also let me explain why I am not looking to necessarily be the latter.
Saying, “Woah, that Maya Angelou is a real inspiration!” is a lot different than saying “Maya Angelou inspired me to write and publish my first book of poetry geared towards working mothers.” One is more adjective-based and the other is more action-based. Do you see where I might be going with this?
I view my sources of inspiration as motivating factors in my life; catalysts of sorts. My husband, who enjoys his career with every fiber of his being, inspired me to quit a job that I disliked and start my own businesses. A fitness instructor with four children inspired me to be okay with making time for myself and nourishing my body with physical activity. Kevin Hall, author of Aspire, inspired me to discover my path, my gifts, and my purpose in life. My mother is the most passion-full person I know and she has inspired me to live a life infused with joy and passion. In one fashion or another, these people (and countless others) have either nudged me along gently or catapulted me to greater things.
In my life, I am largely people-focused. I have a business philosophy that revolves around consumer satisfaction, meeting needs, and building solid relationships. I am a friend to many, and as such, I have many friends. My family is my greatest source of inspiration and joy. I have a fundamental desire to help others, bring people love and laughter, and encourage people to see all of the good that lies within. We all have so many gifts to give, so many inherently positive qualities that we could (and should) be sharing with the world. Do I wish to be a source of inspiration for people? Sure. Sure I do. But, do I want to inspire people to DO great things? That one gets a resounding YES! I would much rather hear, “You inspired me to also get healthy, and with your help, I have reached my ideal dress size,” as opposed to, “Wow! Watching you lose 40 pounds has been so inspirational!” (as you inhale a McDonald’s Big Mac, while woefully glancing down at your cankles and changing into your elastic waist pants).
I am starting to think that many people use the word “inspire” loosely. It’s like a 21st century buzzword, along with thought-leader, entrepreneur, and organic. And, I think that the people who are flinging this word around all willy-nilly might also make up the same contingent as the people that are stuck, unmotivated, unhappy, and prone to martyrdom.
I’ve had numerous people over the past weeks, months, and years tell me that I “inspire” them for one reason or another. Some admire the fact that I quit a job I hated and took an entrepreneurial leap of faith. Some have been moved by my love of family and my style of parenting. Some claim massive inspiration from the healthy transformation that my husband and I made in 2011. Some are moved by my desire to do some good in this world. Other profess to emulate my desire to leave people better than I found them. Some have been inspired by my Self Esteem Through Art journey and my work with children. Others say that my philanthropic efforts to help end local hunger have been an item of note. Even more have commented on how I have an uncanny knack for noticing the small details and items of beauty that most would overlook, and how they would like to better incorporate that behavior in their own lives.
That’s all well and good, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as an inspiration to people. But, I am hoping to take it a step further. What have I actually inspired you to DO?!?! That’s what I really want to know. How have I inspired you to take action? How have I inspired you to step out of your comfort zone and take a chance? How have I inspired you to take steps towards the betterment of the community? Have I inspired you to take steps to be healthier? Have I inspired you to spend more quality time with your family? Have you taken pause and noticed the beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis because of something I said or did? Do you laugh unabashedly? Act silly? Has knowing me impacted your life? Have I helped to make a tangible difference?
I am elated that people are following my journey, paying close attention, and making the effort to comment and share their appreciation. I feel connected with so, so many of you There are days when I feel particularly blessed and swollen with pride. But then there are the other days when just hearing I am a source of inspiration is not enough because there doesn’t seem to be any action associated with it. I want more for you. I don’t want to inspire inertia. Cheering me on from the couch, while you continue to WISH for change does not make me feel an overwhelming sense of pride. I want people to show their gratitude with action — not with pom-poms! I want you to live out all of your hopes and dreams, and if I can help even nudge you a bit closer to your nirvana with a thought, or a kind word, or something I have shared — that would make me extremely happy.
When I start hearing more stories of passion, transformation, momentum, life actualizations, philanthropy, and self-discovery, that is when I know I have done my best and am really making an impact. In the meantime, I will keep doing what I have been doing all along: striving for personal betterment, aiming to enlighten and inspire people of all walks of life, following my bliss, loving with all my heart, giving of myself/my assets/my resources, growing my businesses, appreciating nature’s bounty and abundance, and aiming to leave you all better for having been associated with me in one manner or another….
For me, merely being an inspiration is not enough. I want you to go out there, scare the shit out of yourself on a daily basis, stop playing it safe, and be as awesome as you possibly can be — because I believe in you and know you can! I want you to live with no regrets, be bold and brave, and love yourself more than you ever have before. You deserve it, I have faith in you, and I will keep trying to get through to you with all of the love and patience I can muster.