On Inspiration & Inspiring
“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Inspiration is a gift. It can open peoples’ eyes to what’s possible. It’s a force that can change the way that people behave within the world.
Inspiration has an intensity to it, however. When trying to ignite a spark, shoot for setting a star ablaze — don’t settle for just a twinkle. Try hard to blow a mind.
My alma mater recently announced its commencement speaker for the graduating class. I went to a world-class institution and my college’s graduates are world-class scholars. My school has chosen a recent graduate who manages a software company that develops productivity tools. The company is successful and the graduate is well known in certain circles. He will serve as a fine existence proof that graduates of my university can do the same.
But, that’s not enough. I hope that the message given or received is not one based around this single profession. That’s only a nudge, and it doesn’t expand the lens by which students will see the world. It doesn’t make their apertures larger.
Inspiration should paint a larger picture. In this case, it should show these students that even a lowly graduate can make a difference. Inspire by pointing towards unknown territory — a place that nobody has been to yet. Inspire through role models that are working on a bigger cause. Inspire through real problems and the needs of the planet — real fundamental issues that they can try to solve. Inspire by explaining to them the problems of global health, education, and energy. Inspire by challenging them to change the world.
Whenever you have an opportunity to inspire another, don’t squander it. Paint a picture of something large. Describe the hard to attain, and ignite a drive to achieve it.