This blog post was difficult to write! One of the reflection questions I recommended in my blog post a few weeks ago was:
Who have I connected with that has really inspired me?
I have been thinking about what it is that puts some people into the ‘inspiring’ category. I have lots of good friends and people I love to be with but not all of them deeply inspire me. There are some people in my life that fall into the ‘inspiring’ category. I love spending time with them. I’ve been thinking about these specific people and what it is that makes them inspirational.
For me there are three characteristics of inspiring connections:
Encouraging - Life is hard. I tend to be very self-critical. I’m keenly aware of my flaws. I have impossibly high standards that I rarely live up to and I can carry a lot of guilt and shame about my flaws. Does that sound familiar?
I don’t think I am alone.
I have people in my life who are good at letting me know how I can improve.
Well-intentioned and caring people that I appreciate and grow through their input. But, I need some cheerleaders in my life as well. I need people who tell me they admire me or they love what I am doing without the ‘but’. I need people who tell me they think I am great. They are on team ‘Sandy’.
There are certain friends who do that for me. I never get the sense that my success threatens them or that my experiences in any way diminish their experiences. They are genuinely happy for me. They encourage me not by telling me how I can get better but by pointing out what I am doing well.
Do you have people in your life who inspire you through encouragement?
Stimulating - I am sometimes called a ‘maven’ by my friends. According to Wikipedia. a maven is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from Hebrew, meaning "one who understands", based on an accumulation of knowledge.
I have a voracious appetite for information. I love learning and there is no end of things to learn. I am currently excited about Swift, a new programming language from Apple that will make coding accessible to people like me who would love to learn how to code. I don’t know too many people who will join me in that excitement. I do know that there will be a couple of connections who will get excited with me.
A challenge with being a maven is that people rely on you for information. I get really excited when I am with people who are also early adopters and/or mavens. I recently met with a friend who inspires me, she told me that she had spent the winter reading stories from around the world on ageing women and looking for common threads in the stories. Wow! I found that completely inspiring. I wanted to hear about her discoveries and left that meeting inspired to be more intentional about going deep into topics.
Do you need people in your life who stimulate your thinking?
Motivating - My last podcast was on motivation. I am often inspired directly through people who motivate me. I am motivated when I see someone who is living their values or following their passion. I have a friend, my podcast co-host, who motivates me to be intentional about healthy habits around nutrition and exercise. She doesn’t criticize my poor choices. I just see the choices she is making and I am motivated to be more attentive to my own choices.
When it comes to inspiring connections, I think we are probably each inspired by different types of people. Look up the word inspiration and see what the synonyms are for it. Think about the people you feel really good after you spend time with them. What is it about them that inspires you?
Who are you connecting with that inspires you?
If you are feeling a little lost or stuck in your life, try reaching out to someone who inspires you. I believe it is central to our growth and well being.