In my previous career, I used to be an Occupational Therapist (OT). In the work I do now, I am able to use my education and the skills I learned from 10+ years in the healthcare system, in so many ways. But more to come on that another time.
I bring this up today to give context for a recent dinner, and a laugh about a shared memory.
A former patient of mine (JM), who I now have the honor of calling a friend, was visiting Colorado. He and I were able to catch up over dinner while he was in town, and as the evening came to a close JM reminded me of an experience while he was my patient and I was his therapist.
Without getting into too much detail, he and I were reminiscing about a session we spent addressing some upper body strength and coordination he was working to regain. To keep things fun and interesting we got creative and were practicing hitting a target with an airsoft gun. After a few rounds (and some appropriately playful banter) JM challenged me to hit the target. It was one of those “if you think you’d do better than me, then let’s see it” kind of challenges. Whelp, I hit the target dead on, on the first try. And boy did the wind blow out of his sails! There was a long pause… and then we couldn’t stop laughing.
Bringing us back to present, JM suggested I write an article about that. About “hitting the target.” About setting goals and achieving them. And I thought about it for the past few days.
But instead, I want to talk about inspiration. As my friend, JM inspires me. And if you knew JM like I do, then there is no question that as the CEO of his company he inspires his people as their leader.
A major attribute of leaders is to inspire. Sometimes this word can sound like a really big task – almost an overwhelming concept. “How do I inspire all of the people of this organization?” It’s as though they have seen the Presidential speech from the movie ‘Independence Day,’ and use that as the example of what “to inspire” is supposed to look like. [I mean, it is quite inspiring 😉]
But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes it is a big speech, and it can also come from a small gesture or a simple conversation.
Within one dinner, JM inspired me. Within one conversation he lead me to consider trying some new things, to reflect on questions I hadn’t been asking myself, to want for the “now” as well as the “next.” And he didn’t have to practice some speech in order to do it. He simply showed up as a reciprocal participant in our conversation. He listened to understand, he had a curious and open mind, he asked questions, he provided insights… And I was offered the space to show up in the same way.
The attributes that it takes for a leader to inspire others, are skills and characteristics that we all already have. Most of us have learned what it looks like to show up in this way since we were children, and most of us care enough to have other people’s best interests in mind. All it takes is a bit of slowing down so that you can tap into those attributes and let them out.
When inspiration feels like a big task, consider that it might be because you have been sucked into the whirlwind of the every day. Consider that if you got quiet for a minute, or slowed down (even just a tad), that the concept of “inspiration” might feel more tangible.
I’m not saying that it’s easy, per se. I’m just saying that being an inspiring leader is much more accessible to you than you might think.
Onward, my friends.
[Thank you, JM, for being an inspiring leader in my life. You always have been, and I cherish the fact that I still get to have you as an enriching part of my life. Cheers!]