Want to be inspirational? Be inspired by others.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”—Jack Kerouac, On the Road


If you want to be inspirational, seek out other leaders who inspire you. Surround yourself with them. Spend time with them. Listen to them and ask questions about what they do and why they do it. People who inspire us lift us up, creating openings for our hearts to swell and our brains to find the creative juice to become inspiring. I find that those who are “desirous of everything at the same time” as well as those who thoughtfully reflect and continually improve their leadership are inspirational for me. A few examples of everyday leaders I know come to mind:

My friend Loretta Cipkus Dubray is inspiration; not only is she a creative soul who is desirous of everything at the same time, but she also acts on her dreams. Loretta owns a successful small business that does work globally. It would be easy for her to be complacent and get so focused on her work that she’d close the door to new ideas. But she doesn’t do that. I’ve watched her business transform several times over the last few years, not just for the sake of change, but for the sake of business. Some might say she’d try anything, but I would say that she chooses her creative ventures carefully, and they’ve served her business well. She’s remained enthusiastic, open, curious, and positive.

My colleague and friend Ron Kitchens inspires me because he reads more than anyone I know and has convictions and beliefs that run deep; he knows what he’s here for. He’s started a local leadership program that is part of the economic development organization he manages that gets rave reviews. This may be an odd marriage to some, but Ron is grounded in how it can help to grow leaders – and jobs (which is what economic developers do). Ron is thoughtful and deliberate in the big things he does and cares about the people in his organization (which are also big things), resulting in his organization becoming a great place to work and getting recognized for that. He always seems to be able to stay fresh in his work and in his life.

My client Roger (first name changed, last name kept confidential)inspires me as he quietly observes himself and others for signs of what is and isn’t working in his leadership. He is likely one of the most reflective leader I’ve known and it serves him well. As an introvert working in an executive position in an extraverted Fortune 100, he is in the midst of chaos yet he manages to break through the activity to assure that he is doing right by and for the people he leads. He loves leading others (not something I hear often and with such conviction). He thinks deeply about the impact he is making. All the while he’s remained humble and unassuming. He is truly one of the great quiet leaders I’ve known.

All are leaders, in different ways. All are inspirational. Who inspires you?

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.

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