Consider the story of two stonemasons… You walk up to the first stonemason and ask, ‘Do you like your job?’. He looks up at you and replies, ‘I’ve been building this wall for as long as I can remember. The work is monotonous and I work in the scorching hot sun all day. The stones are heavy and lifting them day after day can be backbreaking. I’m not even sure if this project will be completed in my lifetime. But its a job. It pays the bills.’
You thank him for his time and walk on…
About thirty feet away, you walk up to a second stonemason. You ask him the same question, ‘Do you like your job?’. He looks up and replies, ‘I love my job. I’m building a cathedral. Sure, I’ve been working on this wall for as long as I can remember, and yes, the work is sometimes monotonous. I work in the scorching hot sun all day. The stones are heavy and lifting them day after day can be backbreaking. I’m not even sure if this project will be completed in my lifetime. But I’m building a cathedral.’
Now that’s pretty inspiring.
This is not a story of ‘choose to be optimistic, it feels better’. We know optimism is good for us and we certainly don’t need two stonemasons to tell us that.
The meaning of this story is deeper.
The story told the fate of someone who would work to pay the bills. The other would work for something bigger than himself. You see, it’s not what we physically or rationally do that is inspiring. But rather our own interpretation of it. The second stonemason had worked for a cause that was bigger than himself. Even if we rationally built a stonewall, like all the other stonemasons, his vision was much greater and far exceeding those of others. Building a cathedral was not his job. It was his calling.
#1 Clarity of Why
Inspiration comes from many things, some of which I will talk about in this article. But if it comes from one thing especially, then it is clarity of why. I mean, why do you do what you do? I don’t mean something like ‘to pay my bills’ or ‘to make my family happy’. No. By why I mean your purpose. Your cause. Why did you even get out of bed this morning? Don’t tell me because you had to! That was a choice.
Steve Jobs, inspires us. The reason Jobs existed was to think different, be different, and always challenge the status quo. His result? A product that would function as an extension of our own self. The iPhone.
Or Martin Luther King. As the leader of the civil rights movement, Dr. King had the gift to inspire a vision that would change the world. The vision to fight for his dream in which black and white kids would play on the swing, and hold hands together. That’s pretty inspiring!
“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
The point is that people who have a clear sense of why, are motivated by a purpose that is bigger than themselves. Our why is usually grounded in our past experience. Often times a traumatic or some sort of defining moment we had. When the why comes to life it is an entity completely irrational and subjective.
To inspire, having clarity of why is just the beginning. The rest comes from filtering our decisions and daily behavior through our why. Everything we say and do, must back up our why! This is what it means to be authentic, and authenticity is magnetic! It is inspiring!
#2 Vulnerability is the New Sexy
What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful – Brené Brown
We live in a highly filtered world. It is a norm to be highly selective on how we share our information with the world. In fact, what most people really share is how amazing and perfect their life is. Many whom we know act like they have got it all figured it out and live a life of zero bumps and cracks.
But here is the truth…
Humans, are naturally wired for being drawn towards what is new, appealing and arouses great curiosity. But more so, we are hardwired to identify ourselves with people who are like us. The reason why you and your best friend are best friends is that you are both like each other and for some reason happen to laugh about the most dumb shit you can think of together.
Strong bonds with our soul mates cannot be created simply through sharing all the greatest news from our lives with them. We do that as well. But you and I both agree that your best friend knows secrets about you, that the rest of the world… perhaps shouldn’t know. Things like your greatest anxieties, weaknesses and so on.
The point is that you’re much more likely to inspire and like someone a lot more when being a human being. Sharing your anxieties, your weaknesses or simply admitting your flaws, will draw all those people to you that have the same stuff going on inside of their head.
Read this article if you want more on the benefits of sharing your anxieties
I’m not saying that you should go around and thoughtlessly yell around your anxieties. Instead, when you strike a deep conversation with someone at your table the next time, don’t be afraid to expose yourself. They are just another human being who are desperately looking for someone who is like them. Be unfiltered, be vulnerable.
#3 Treat Everyone Equally
I grew up with a father I, and the DSM, would consider a narcissist. For narcissists, apart from general flaws in their character like a lack of empathy or self-worth, they also classify people as a ‘hierarchy’. If you’re someone of prestigious status, you will be given respect. But if you are someone of lower class, a narcissist will typically look down on you. If you have ever met or lived with a narcissist, you know exactly what it feels like.
But every fault has its lesson. If I was taught one lesson than it would be that I’m greatly inspired by those who treat everyone equally. Whether you are someone of lower status, different ethnicity, politics or other factors. To me, every human being deserves respect (I mean like 99.9%!). There is no reason for not respecting people whom we consider ‘bad people’. There is no such thing as a bad person. It is only their daily decisions and actions that are bad. Not the person himself.
People who treat every man or woman they meet with kindness, love, and respect, I truly have a heart for.
To me, kindness, grace and spreading true joy, is the answer.
#4 Tell a Story
It is no coincidence that Steve Jobs puts ‘be a great storyteller’ under his ten rules for success…
For years, marketers have used storytelling as a more convincing approach to influencing behavior. Rather than using simple dry facts, telling an emotion-evoking narrative that would transform problems and issues into exciting stories seemed a better way to building customer loyalty.
Using vast amounts of facts and figures, yes, makes things easily understandable so that we all get it. But simple facts alone do not drive behavior. To drive behavior, it requires a story that evokes emotions inside our limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain where all our emotions and feelings occur. You and I both know that when we’re confronted to making a decision, like buying a new camera, we are much more likely to make the decision we associate more emotions with.
For more information on how the brain makes decision and drives behavior, read this article.
Storytelling addresses our need to be entertained and feeling something whilst being entertained so that we can build a more personal connection to the message or claim the story makes.
Consider Apple. In 2014, the company created a short advertising clip titled ‘Your Verse’. The ad showed how Apples iPad was coming to use in different industries, whether that was during movie making, capturing memorable moments, music production or help coordinate ground works for repairing wind turbines. The point of Apples ‘Your Verse’ ad was not about showing the new iPad Air’s rational features and benefits. It was deeper and rather philosophical. Go and see for yourself…
‘Your Verse’ was made to empower the individual and give us a clear message to develop our calling. Accompanied by Robin Williamson’s voice, the ad aims to show us, not only that we are more powerful than we think, but through making the customer, us, the protagonist, it successfully establishes a connection between the journey of living our purpose through the help of the iPad. ‘Your Verse’ is a remarkable piece of marketing.
#5 Choose Your Entourage
It was around eight o’clock when Till and I walked through the balmy and warm summer air that rested on our skins. We were just on our way home from a rooftop bar I showed him on his one night visit in Vienna. As we walk through from the shops illuminated allyways he goes on saying, ‘I have a believe you just won’t get around achieving something remarkable in your life man’. As he had finished his words, and a second like pause, I burst out laughing. I kindly thanked him and we continued our talk.
That night, whilst laying in bed with my eyes wide open, I thought about what Till had said. This simply wasn’t just a barnum statement he had made. It was an expectation that was personal.
The point is that when we surround ourselves with people that believe in us and give us faith through sharing what expectations they have from us, we get inspired. We get inspired because we feel like there is more to us than living an ordinary life. We get inspired because there is a little something that knocks on our brain telling us inside we are made for a higher purpose and cause that causes us to constantly go outside our comfort zones and truly challenge. Now that statements itself is pretty inspiring isn’t it? 😉
I am incredibly curious to hear your why. Have you found it yet? What do you think of vulnerability? I certainly know an awful lot of people who may be of different opinion. Tell me yours! 🙂
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