INSPIRED

The Eight Elements of Inspiration – Empowerment

Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness–who dares ROUSE Them?

- Numbers 24:9, The New International Version

Although I was a successful student, I wasn’t great at everything. I remember the feeling of frustration and helplessness which threatened to overwhelm me as I struggled with my math homework. Once, during class, my frustration exploded as I burst into tears, rushing from the class after yelling at my teacher, only to return red-faced and ashamed a few minutes later. I remember sitting terrified in German class, watching the clock and praying that the teacher wouldn’t call on me, counting the seconds until I could escape without having to speak in front of the class – ironic, considering much of my time is now spent as an itinerant public speaker! These experiences epitomize everything I believe education should not be: disenfranchising, enfeebling, paralyzing. Education should be about empowerment – rousing we lions and lionesses into consciousness of our own capability and strength.

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The Eight Elements of Inspiration – Reimagination

There is nothing I should care more to do…than to ROUSE the imagination of men and women to a vision of human claims in those races of their fellow-men who most differ from them in customs and beliefs.

- George Eliot

When we think of inspiration, reimagination is often at the heart. When we are inspired, we see the world anew, as  if a burning brand has revealed possibilities that before lay hidden in the shadows. “Yes!”, we find ourselves saying, “I see how things can be different now!”

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The Eight Elements of Inspiration – Injury

It is funny that men who are supposed to be scientific cannot get themselves to realize the basic principle of physics, that action and reaction are equal and opposite, that when you persecute people you always ROUSE Them to be strong and stronger.

- Gertrude Stein

Trigger Warning: This article involves graphic descriptions of harmful homophobic practices used in “conversion therapy”.

Injury. The dark horse of inspiration. Powerful, unexpected, and potentially dangerous. The idea is simple: people are roused to action if they feel they, or someone they care about, is being injured by the situation you seek to change (or, more generally, if they feel there is a big downside to inaction). If you can make the injury vivid and present, bring it into the room with you, put a face and a name to it, then you can inspire people to act.

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The Eight Elements of Inspiration – Purpose

It is wonderful what strength of purpose and boldness and energy of will are ROUSED by the assurance that we are doing our duty.

- Walter Scott

If you observe the happiest, most effective, most energetic people, you will invariably find they have given themselves over to a higher cause. We want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves, something important, as if we’re on a quest and that our contribution matters. On the flip side, when our lives feel devoid of meaning, directionless, pointless, we begin to drift. I know I am never less happy than when I can’t see any point in what I’m doing, can’t see how it fits into a grander narrative. In short, human beings seek purpose – the fourth element of inspiration.

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The Eight Elements of Inspiration – Solidarity

To pull or haul strongly and all together, as upon a rope, without the assistance of mechanical appliances.

- Definition of ROUSE, Encyclo Online Encyclopedia

We are powerful when we act together: that is the insight behind solidarity, the third element of inspiration. Like many of the eight elements, this seems obvious: people can achieve things working together which they cannot achieve on their own. Big deal. But the trick – the art - as a leader is to enable people to feel their solidarity at times when it is not readily apparent.

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The Eight Elements of Inspiration – Necessity

All real freedom springs from necessity, for it can be gained only through the exercise of the individual will, and that will can be ROUSED to energetic action only by the force of necessity acting upon it from the outside to spur it to effort.

- Anna C. Brackett

We’re busy. We have many demands on our time. We have our own lives to live, and present concerns outweigh numinous calls to action from distant causes. Sometimes, a well-designed ad or YouTube video will pique our interest, and we’ll spend a few minutes taking a look. But how often does that turn into real action? If we’re honest, how frequently do we rouse ourselves from the demands of the everyday to do something about a cause which matters?

Not often.

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The Eight Elements of Inspiration – Information

We seek to bestir the people into an awareness of their own condition, provide inspiration for their thoughts and ROUSE Them to pursue their true interests.

- Jack Knight

Inspiration starts with information. We cannot act if we do not understand, and many of the challenges we face – as individuals, as an organization, and as a society – are extremely complex. It isn’t always clear even what the problem is, let alone how to solve it, and we can be so deeply enmeshed in systems we are a part of that we can’t see how things might be different. Thus the first job of anyone who would inspire others to act is to “bestir us into an awareness of our own condition”. You have to inspire people’s thoughts.

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Be INSPIRED – The Eight Elements of Inspiration

AROUSED, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if by supernatural or divine influence.

Definition of INSPIRED, Dictionary.com

Inspiration has a numinous quality to it. We know when it comes upon us – the feeling of cold air on the back of our throat as we take a sharp intake of breath, the way we raise our eyebrows and our eyes go wide, the enraptured smile and amazed laugh – all these are the outward signs of inspiration. But what does it truly mean to be inspired, inside? What does it take to inspire others?

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