Are you being all that you know you could be? Are you achieving all you could truly achieve? Are you using your abilities to the fullest?
If you answered yes to those questions, you’re probably either lying or delusional. I don't think it's a stretch to say that most people go through life without ever tapping into their real potential. That might be because they have no idea how much potential they really have. It could be because they don't believe they can. It might be because it just seems like too much work. Or it could be any other of the bazillion reasons people fall short of their capacity.
I'm no exception. As much as I'd like to claim the mantle of The Enlightened One, the reality is that I have a million well-refined ways to get in my own way. I have also done a lot of work to find ways around those self-created obstacles. One of the most consistently powerful ways I have found to blast past my self-imposed limitations is the inspiration of others.
That inspiration has had many faces. It has come from the stories of people I've never met who have accomplished great things or overcome overwhelming odds. It has also come in the shape of friends who will kick my butt into action. Frequently, it comes through watching people’s stories unfold in real time. For example, my friend Erden Eruc, who is currently rowing across the Indian Ocean on the way from Australia to Africa, has been a non-stop source of inspiration as I have watched his human-powered circumnavigation efforts come to life over the last several years.
Over time, I've been fortunate to have many people who have fed my inspiration. Friends and family, heroes, mentors, and even critics have all inspired me to keep taking it beyond where I am to where I could be.
Try this: Start consciously building inspiration sources into your life. Compile a list of inspiration sources, including things like:
- People currently in your life who inspire you.
- People who encourage or push you (in a positive way) to live into your potential.
- People you have never met, but whose stories inspires you.
- Media (books, movies, etc.) about people who have overcome enormous obstacles.
- Media about people who are making a difference in the world that inspires you.
- Self-help books that help you see yourself in a bigger way than the limitations of your present self.
- Motivational speakers.
- Inspirational audio-books (a great way to spend a morning commute).
Make it a habit to consistently reach out and pull some inspiration into your life. Reach out to people who inspire you. Spend fifteen minutes every morning with an inspiring book. Make your car a rolling inspiration box by listening to audio-books. The more consciously and consistently you build it into your days, the more you can benefit from inspiration’s energy.
If you have ever come away from listening to a motivational speaker feeling charged up, only to find that energy dissipate into nothingness over time, you know that inspiration by itself isn’t enough. It won’t magically make your dreams come true. What it will do, though, is add fuel to your fire as you do the grit work of turning those dreams into reality. And sometimes that makes all the difference between success and failure.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.