May 10, 2011

Want Your Best Work? Get Inspired

The other day I was thumbing through a copy of Sports Illustrated when I came across an article on Dick and Rick Hoyt. The Hoyts are hardly well known sports figures, despite their athletic accomplishments. Rick Hoyt has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. One day in 1977 he asked his dad to push him in a 5 mile fun run.

Who knew what started with that race would lead them to running the Boston Marathon and eventually competing in the Ironman triathlon. Dick and Rick have participated in hundreds of distance races all over the world for more than 30 years.

I can only imagine how many people have been touched by the Hoyts’ story. It is hard to watch it and not feel something deep inside. It’s the kind of feeling that makes you want to do something special. That feeling is inspiration.

We often get inspiration confused with motivation. Motivation is what makes you get out of bed and go to work every day. We are motivated by many different things: money, power, security, fame. Business leaders spend hours of time and huge amounts of money trying to figure out the best ways to motivate their employees. “If only I can find a way to get them to do more…”

Companies would be better off if the focus were on inspiring their people instead of motivating them. It’s when we are truly inspired that we come up with innovative ideas and do our best work.

So where does inspiration come from? The answer is very simple. We get inspiration from other people. The stories of others are what inspire us the most. Seeing how someone overcomes their own struggles can spark us to reach new heights. Maybe you’ve never ran a marathon. But thinking about Dick Hoyt pushing his son in a wheelchair for 26.2 miles just might inspire you to give it a try.

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