What does inspire you? Is it faith or family? Is it money or purpose? I sat back this week and thought about my recent trip to New York. I once again soaked up the smells, sounds and sights of my favorite city…and I quickly began to realize that PEOPLE were what inspired me the most. People, humanity, reality!
My taxi driver, Ahmed inspired me as he spoke of his journey from India with his wife and kids; my nephew, Nathan who greeted me at the hotel elevator, as the consummate optimist, with a grin from ear to ear as he showed me to my matchbox-sized room in Midtown. It was the group of boys on the corner hustling CD’s (possibly blank, but I bought one for 7 bucks anyway). It was Richard, our tour guide, on the Greyline who prided himself on his knowledge of history and HIS city! It was the sales clerk at The Gap who went above and beyond to ensure I found what I was looking for at a store across town.
People inspire me because they somehow inspire themselves to give each day, and everyone in it, all that they’ve got! Everyday, ordinary (really extraordinary) people inspire me by how they live their lives out loud. It doesn’t always take a Lance Armstrong or a Randy Pausch to inspire but it does have a lasting impression when people live inspired lives because it’s who they are to the core. I watch my next-door neighbor Cathi, who has MS, tackle each day with more fervor and gusto than most people I know; I often forget she’s in a wheelchair let alone stricken with a debilitating disease. She makes me want to be a better person.
SO many people say the words, “My wife makes me want to be a better person.” What does that really mean? What does being better mean? Better than whom? Better than what? Well…I guess it means better than I was yesterday…and better than even I want to be on some days.
Today, on the 11th anniversary of the death of my father-in-law who inspired me with every fiber of his being, I’m working outside with my husband stacking wood and I am inspired by a man who puts so much care and thought into everything he does for us. I might be more apt to sling and stack at a spastic pace that gets it all done in record time; not Tracey, he thoughtfully and strategically grooms the yard, stacks the wood and ensures that everything is in its place. By witnessing him and other people who live inspiring lives right in front of me I learn new skills: the art of patience, the value of resting, the pride of a job well done, and a respect for people doing everyday things that inspire me to be a better person than I was yesterday.
The question I ask myself next is: what have I done to inspire others lately? And one I ask of you: what have you done to inspire your spouse, your kids or your co-workers? I think it’s a valid question with answers we can all come up with. In part, the question is intended to force us to take inventory of the inspiring things we do on a regular basis; to give thanks for our gifts, to celebrate our achievements and to recognize the good in ourselves and other people. I bet we inspire people more than we know it.
Sometimes I forget to appreciate our individual differences, but today I’m taking time to see simple but amazing things that inspire me about the people in my life and the people I may have only one chance to inspire if I so choose. How amazing would it be if I could live in this space forever? What an incredible impact I could make if I made a concerted effort to be intentional; to inspire. I think part of inspiration IS acknowledgement. How often do we tell the people around us that we appreciate their gifts, their character or their impact on our lives? Admittedly, not enough, but I vow to make an effort…starting today.
So I ask you again, what or who inspires you? If someone immediately pops in your head then today might just be the day to pick up the phone and let them know!