Inspire Others

imagesI was watching the movie “Invictus” (2009) the other day on a flight.  It tells a great story of South Africa, of Nelson Mandela and of a nation changing.

There’s a scene where Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, is having a conversation with the captain of the Springbok Rugby team, Francois Pienaar, played by Matt Damon.

The exchange goes like this:

Nelson Mandela: How do you inspire your team to do their best?

Francois Pienaar: By example. I’ve always thought to lead by example, sir.

Nelson Mandela: Well, that is right. That is exactly right. But how do we get them to be better than they think they can be? that is very difficult, I find. Inspiration, perhaps. How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us? I sometimes thing it is by using the work of others.

As I watched this conversation, I kind of left the film for a little bit and asked myself that question:  “Russ, how do you inspire others to be more than they think they can be?”

Jonathan writes in Paid to Exist, “Motivation is about things that you think you should do or that you’re supposed to do.  Inspiration is about being called to act because you’re in direct alignment with the magnetic, luminous marrow of potential that is you.”

He goes on to say…

“When you’re inspired you know because…

– Life feels effortless

– You have to hold yourself back from starting right now

– Your passion burns steady, it doesn’t flatline

– It occupies magnitudes of mental space, there’s no vacancy

– You feel called to do this; the feeling comes from your core

– You feel it in your bones.”

So, how do we, as leaders, inspire others?  How do we help direct them, lead them, push them, encourage them, and help work being inspired by the opportunity, the call and the vision?

Here are a couple of simple things we need to do:

#1) As Francois Pienaar shared, we lead by EXAMPLE.

You can’t fake inspiration, people will see through it.  Are you truly inspired by what you get to do everyday?  If not, what must you do to change that? What aspect of your job can you be inspired to do to the best of your ability?  The best way to inspire others is to be inspired.  Model it.


When you know what really inspires and motivates your team, you’ll be able to connect with them in new ways.  This isn’t about holding a carrot in front of them, begging them to continue.  This is about helping them to catch the vision and the best way to do this is by knowing each of your team well and knowing what moves them.


Sometimes we cast vision, then get to work.  Casting the vision needs to be something that happens over and over.  Don’t forget it. Don’t forget to communicate it. Don’t forget to over-communicate it. People have short memories.  Don’t let them forget.


Don’t let your team look at every small task and wonder what the value and purpose is.  Help them to see that the little things all play a part in the big picture, in the big vision. Affirm people for everything they do and help them learn to see how they play a part.  Cast the vision BIG.

Jonathan shares this: “You might be thinking… how do I get inspired? Well, you can’t.  Inspiration isn’t something you GET, it comes from within, it comes from your core.”

Our job as leaders is to help each of the people that we work with to figure out inspiration and what helps them get out of bed in the morning.

Inspire others.

“…it matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” (William Ernest Henley)


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