My Inc.com post yesterday, “There Are 2 Kinds of Inspiration. If You Want to Inspire, Better Know Both.” begins:
There Are 2 Kinds of Inspiration. If You Want to Inspire, Better Know Both.
Some leaders inspire a nation to sacrifice to get to the moon. Others to buy steak knives. Both work, as long as you don’t confuse them.
Everyone feels inspired in late December to get fit. Then, come Valentines Day, the gyms are empty.
Yet Martin Luther King inspired people to march, boycott, and go to jail for years.
At some point, everyone has felt inspired to set their alarm to wake up and do something important, no matter what. Then, when it goes off, they snooze and snooze until it’s too late to do that thing.
Yet Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in prison to emerge a more effective leader than when he went in, inspired, showing no bitterness or hatred.
Why do we sometimes feel inspired, yet lose it before achieving anything meaningful, but other times inspiration elevates us to acts beyond our wildest expectations?
For those of us who lead, or aspire to lead, how can we inspire people, and ourselves, like great leaders, to achieve?
The two kinds of inspiration
First, recognize that inspiration comes in two types. Actually, more like a spectrum, but I’ll describe the two poles.