I love this quote from the poet Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Isn’t it great when you have an interaction with someone who makes you feel better about yourself and the world around you, someone who motivates you to be a better person, or someone who influences who you are becoming as a person?
I’ve had many of these encounters with others, and I’m sure you have as well. With a seemingly effortless smile and a few kind words, some of these encounters have changed the course of my life.
As I’ve embraced the example of others and tried to learn the skill, I’ve seen what a few moments of my time and effort can mean for a lifetime of another person. This power we have to inspire others with our words and actions is a gift.
My friend, Kevin Hall, writes in his book, Aspire, that the word inspire comes from the Latin inspirare, and that “spirare” means to breathe and “in” implies into. Kevin writes, “To inspire is to breathe into. When we breathe life into another, we inspire their hopes, goals, and dreams. We breathe life into them. But when we take the air out of another, we expire their hopes, goals, and dreams. So we can breathe life in or suck life out. We can inspire or expire. The choice is ours.”
Later, Kevin explains that the word encourage comes from coeur, which means heart. Kevin concludes that “when you encourage, you add to someone’s heart. When you discourage, you take away from someone’s heart.” There are several idioms in the English language related to the heart that are directly related to courage and strength (“take heart,” “put your heart into it,” “lose heart,” or “faint of heart”). It’s amazing and frightening how easy it is to affect another’s strength and courage when we touch their heart.
In every interaction we have with our employees or our distributors (or even the person behind you in the grocery store line), there is always this unique and amazing moment where we can decide to either lift them up, pull them down, or leave them to whatever other tides and currents come their way. And it’s all done with the words we use. Learning to recognize that moment and capitalize on it to inspire someone is a skill, and you can develop it.
The 14th Dalai Lama taught, “We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If we contribute to other people's happiness, we will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.”
Together let’s all commit to leave every person we meet better for having met us.
If you have read Kevin Hall’s book, Aspire, share with me your favorite insights. Click “View Comments” below, login or register (it’s free, and mlm.com never sells your information), and then add your thoughts.