It was still dark when my alarm went off. In those first moments of waking, all I could hear was the patter of rain on the window. That just made bed all the more warm and cozy. I listened again and the rain gently continued; surely I could stay a little longer.
Then out of the gloom came the first tentative notes of a blackbird’s song. Then some more notes, slightly stronger. The blackbird seemed to be testing for response. It was like we might call inquiringly into an empty house – ‘hello’ (pause) ‘hello?’ (longer pause) ‘Is there anybody there?’
There was an answer – another bird called quietly. The blackbird sang back and soon another voice joined in. Now the blackbird, getting more confident, launched into the beautiful melody that defines the spring. In just a few minutes, many other birds were roused to take part so that a full chorus announced the dawn.
Birdsong like this I find truly inspiring. Yet if the blackbird had not taken the lead, starting out as a solo voice, the chorus may never have happened. In a way it’s the same with us humans.
When others take the lead, conversations can focus on negativity, complaining and narrow horizons. What if you were to share what you find inspiring? You could create some inspiring conversations with two immediate benefits:
1. You will become inspired by telling others about what inspires you
2. You will inevitably inspire some of the people you tell
In the longer term, you will also be encouraging others to tell their inspiring stories: there is a potential generative effect.
Sharing what inspires you may sound fine among close friends but what about the wider picture? You may feel that it would be awkward to share this in certain contexts – at work for instance. Yet these places are often where some inspiring input is needed most.
No one wants to be labelled ‘wacky’ so when we share our inspiring stories, we can do it with social skill and sensitivity.
Here are some suggestions where you could start:
1. Art (in its widest sense) is a great place to start. Whether it is music, film, painting, writing or whatever, our culture already gives us ‘permission’ to find it inspiring. What art experience do you find inspiring?
2. The natural world is another area where people feel comfortable about expressing inspiration. This is helped by the increasing awareness and concern for our natural environment. Like my account of the dawn chorus, what do you find inspiring in the natural world?
3. Biographies – life stories – are another category where we can share inspiration. Who inspires you? What is the reason? Who would be in your top 10?
4. You may have a good cause or favourite charity that generates inspiring stories. This covers a whole range of possibilities and, when you look at the generosity of donations, you can see that many people are inspired by them. What cause do you find inspiring?
So whether it is over lunch, in the office or on the road, there will be opportunities to share what you find inspiring. Take the lead and watch for the difference you will make!