Do you allow yourself to be inspired? Or are you too cynical for that?
I think one of the most important contributors to your success is the ability to see qualities in other people that make you feel good and make you want to do better, work hard, and have the courage to try new things.
When I hear about a blind person climbing a mountain, I am inspired. When I hear about a young person doing something spectacular, I am inspired. When I hear about an old person who takes on great new challenges, I am inspired.
Most of us will find success by working hard every day, being persistent, and growing successful over time. But pointing to inspiring people and allowing ourselves to be impressed is very important. It teaches us that great things are possible. And great things are possible from normal people. That’s good news, because most of us are normal!
And where do you find inspiration? That’s the best part: it’s everywhere! There are stories in the newspapers, magazines, and in all kinds of books. Even television occasionally moves away from “The Stupidest Contest We Could Think Of” and has inspiring stories.
The key is, are you open to being inspired? Being open to inspiration is an attitude you take with you when you start your day. You have it when you stumble across a story, and you’re able to receive the inspiration. If you carry cynicism and sarcasm throughout your day, then no feat will ever inspire you.
I recommend that you look for books with inspiring themes. These are often small collections of stories. When you have a minute or two, read a page or two. This habit will permanently improve your attitude. After all, if you start your day looking at the goodness and the greatness in the world, your predisposition will be toward the positive side of life. And that makes all the difference.
I recently picked up a little book entitled There’s Always Time for Greatness: Who Did What When From Ages 1-100. A lot of it is simply “who did what,” but there are some inspiring gems as well. Like Mozart giving concerts across Europe at age six, or Yehudi Menuhin playing violin solos with the San Francisco Symphony at age seven.
When we consider the outstanding feats of the young, it is humbling. There is a level of greatness I don’t possess (and you can’t go back to age seven). But impressive achievements should make us feel good about the human capacity to do great things.
I personally don’t know how any human being can run a marathon. To me, that’s impressive when anybody does it at any age. But I know it’s possible and I know I could do it if I set my mind to it. I read that Dimitrion Yordanidis ran a marathon in Athens (in 7 hours, 33 minutes) at age 98! I cannot run a marathon today. And even if I start practicing, I won’t be able to run one tomorrow. But sometime in the next fifty-five years? That I can do!
Sometimes, when we “grow up” we forget to dream. Maybe we get too busy. Maybe reality has too many pressing demands on us. Maybe we have to wait until the next raise, or the kids move out, or after the house is paid off. All of those excuses amount to one thing: Fear. Fear is a false barrier you put in front of yourself so you don’t have to feel bad about not dreaming.
Inspiration can help you overcome fear (and drudgery, and boredom). Inspiration can bring you a life-giving force that allows you to dream. I think too many people stumble through life with a crippling view of what can be done. The truth is, anything can be done! First you have to be open to being inspired. Then come dreams and schemes. Eventually, actions have to follow because dreamers become dissatisfied with the here and now. Once you start considering the possible, you will want to move toward it-
You will want to make it happen. It’s a natural and extremely powerful series of events.
Begin today. Pick up one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Or anything similar. Don’t be so cynical. Goodness is everywhere when you take the time to look. So is greatness. And potential. And success. Begin by allowing yourself to be inspired.