Last week I was at a conference where one of the speakers was Kim Phuc. If you don't know her name – you will definitely know her picture.
Kim was photographed running down a road in Trang Bang, on June 8, 1972 after South Vietnamese planes dropped a napalm bomb on her village. Photographer Nick Ut captured the image that earned him a Pulitzer Prize and is considered among the most iconic of the 20th century.
Kim is without doubt one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I had the opportunity to have lunch with her and was so moved not just by her story, but by the way she has learned to forgive the people who disfigured her for life. The way she has so much love and empathy in her heart, the way she devotes a considerable amount of her life to helping other victims of war, and the way she touches people all over the world when they listen to her story.
Hearing about Kim Phuc and other people who have overcome massive adversity tends to put life into perspective and can help inspire you to make the most of what you have. The word inspire comes from the Latin derivative 'inspirare' which means 'to breathe life into'. Inspiration comes in many shapes and sizes – and what works to breathe life into one person may have the opposite effect for another. It is important, however, to understand what it is in life that helps you stay inspired, and even more important to make sure you get regular doses of passion. And not just in the good times, but equally as important when things aren't going as you had planned.
Inspiration comes from other people
Some people find entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson or Donald Trump, movie stars such as George Clooney or Angelina Jolie, or politicians such as Barack Obama, inspiring.
Although meeting Kim Phuc was definitely 'inspiring' and helped put any troubles I might be having in my life into perspective, inspiration does not come solely from famous people, or those who have overcome adversity. To this day one of the most inspiring people I have ever met is my grandmother. Nan had such a gentle soul and loved each of her 15 grandchildren equally, and always maintained a calm composure and a dignity in the way she approached life. My good mate Mario's inspiration was his dad Vince, the postmaster at Yeoval Post Office. Vince devoted his life to being a great dad raising his four children, being a supportive husband to his wife, and was an inspiration to everyone who knew him due to the way he devoted himself to the things in life that were important to him and his family.
Inspiration comes from nature
Swimming in the ocean; walking along a pristine bush track; skiing on fresh powder; sitting around a camp fire on a quiet summer evening and staring at the stars; and tending to your garden, are all great ways to draw inspiration from the natural environment.
Being outdoors makes you feel alive. The smell of lemon-scented eucalyptus trees, the salt-spray wafting from a blue ocean, and the crackle of twigs beneath your feet on a bush track, all awaken the senses. Research shows connecting with nature also bestows a meaning of purpose and connectedness.
Inspiration comes from movies, books and quotes
Reading a great book; reciting your favourite poem; watching an uplifting movie or reading a motivating quote, can help change the way you feel and add some spark to your day.
Although I've watched it dozens of times, I still get goose bumps when I watch the movie Rudy, about Daniel 'Rudy' Ruettiger and how he realised his dream of playing football at the University of Notre Dame, despite being told he was too short, too slow and too unskilled to ever play at the top level.
What do you read, watch, learn and do to stay inspired?
Inspiration comes from your tribe
Seth Godin posits that “a tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical.”
We seek inspiration from people we like to hang around with, and from people we aspire to be like. Inspiration comes from role models and watching how they handle themselves to accomplish their goals, how they overcome hardship and how they pick themselves up and stay resilient.
Even the haters, the doomsdayers, the negative Nancies, the energy vampires and the Chicken Littles find inspiration in their own clan. (Go on – if you fall into this category, admit it – you know it's true.)
Inspiration comes from all around
Think about or recall a time when you felt inspired. What was the common thread that made you feel like this? What are the qualities of other people that make you feel uplifted? What is it about nature, or music, or movies or poetry, that make you feel good about yourself and positive about life?
So, you've read my thoughts, now it's over to you.
Where do you draw inspiration from?