Whether you’ve just started out on your career path or already occupy a corner office, you have the ability to make a difference in the lives of those around you every single day. Of course, that difference can be positive or negative. But if you want the power to light a spark inside of others, and make them want to be better, stronger, bigger, and more of who they are… you can. With your words, with your actions, with your ethics.
All truly inspiring people share two fundamental qualities: they believe in themselves and they believe in others. But they also share other critical traits that make those around them want to be better, reach further, leap higher. Here are six of the most important ones.
- They express positivity. They’re not necessarily “upbeat” every second of every day – nobody is – but they’re enthusiastic about their work, their lives, their families. They spread their positive vibes and good energy to others, like a joyful contagion. Being with people who are passionate about what they do makes us feel good. Their enthusiasm prompts us to do our best work.
- They have empathy for others. Those who inspire us understand and care about our personal stories – who we really are and what we feel, deep down. They appreciate who we are inside, which makes us feel safe to be more authentic without worrying we’ll be humiliated for our differences or our weaknesses. And empathetic people are also capable of showing their own vulnerabilities, which puts us even more at ease.
- They listen. Hearing isn’t the same as listening. Inspirational people really pay attention to what we say to them and respond appropriately, asking questions, offering suggestions, and furthering the conversation. The never just let things go in one ear and out the other. They want your feedback and encourage you to contribute to the common goal. This creates a shared sense of value because when everyone participates, everyone is important.
- They foster equality. The people who inspire us the most are not full of hate, bigotry, or racism. They don’t harbor or encourage thoughts of who is “better” than someone else, or who “deserves” more. They strive for equality. They use caring, accepting language, and are inclusive rather than divisive. Understanding, compassion, acceptance, and appreciation are at the heart of who they are and what they stand for.
- They are trustworthy. We look up to those who show integrity. When a person always tells the truth, systematically delivers on what they promise, and lives honestly and earnestly, we can’t help but be inspired by them. We know they won’t use us for their own purposes or to cover up their misdeeds. We can rely on them in a crisis; we know we can count on them if we tell them something in confidence. They always place the common good above their ego, as hard as it may sometimes be.
- They’re generous by nature. Inspirational people try to give others what they want whenever it’s possible or reasonable. They understand that, while money is a motivator, so too are praise, recognition, non-monetary rewards, saying “thank you”, and publicly celebrating an individual’s contribution to a successful endeavor. Speaking directly to you about the value that your work provides for the organization is also inspiring – and fulfilling.
Every day at work, the words you speak and the actions you take are powerful beyond your wildest dreams. Make it your goal to see that they’re inspirational and you’ll elicit the best from those around you.