Inspired to Inspire

Yesterday I announced on my Facebook page that I had been promoted. I hesitate with those posts because my natural tendency to share goes to war with my natural tendency against self-aggrandizement. But, in the end I put it out there because my work is an important part of my life and the people who care about me know that.

Even so, I was unprepared for the outpouring of support I got. Only my post about losing my beloved dog triggered a greater response, and after 11 hours (most overnight) I received 104 likes and 39 “congratulations” messages. I forget how many people care about me and are cheering for my success and happiness. It’s awesome.

There were a series of comments though that gave me pause. Here they are:

  • Congrats. 🙂 so inspirational.
  • Congrats Mel. Way to follow your dreams. Such an inspiration.
  • Many congrats Mel! You deserve the world. You are truly amazing and such a motivating inspiration.

The comments are incredibly kind and they were made by people who have known me long and well. People who I respect and whose opinion matters to me a great deal. And as I read the comments last night, one thought kept coming into my head: Does anyone hear the statement, “You’re such an inspiration!” and say, “You’re right, I am.”

Because I don’t.

I get up most days and go to work. I have good days and bad days. My inbox is always full, and there are times when I let my boss, my peers and others down. When I am short on sleep and stressed out I can respond with passion and frustration — it can hurt or intimidate people. I don’t always listen as well as I should. I’ve made good decisions and bad decisions. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.

None of that feels insprirational. It feels incredibly ordinary. Like every single person reading this post could say the exact same thing. I look at myself and my life and although I feel pride and satisfaction and happiness galore — I don’t feel inspiration.

So, I figured maybe I just didn’t understand the word. I consulted Google for a definition. It said:

Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

So maybe that’s the rub. Inspiration isn’t about self-perception it’s about external response. It’s about other people ‘being mentally stimulated to do or feel something‘. And while some people might actively work toward inspiration, others might stumble into it simply by living and doing the stuff that comes naturally.

And for me, if the person that I am or the words that I say bring about action and feelings in others — especially positive actions and feelings — that is awesome. Because life and the value in life for me is defined by the moments of color when I was inspired to be more or I felt that I had achieved more than I had thought possible. A better person. A better wife. A better mom. A better friend. 

I still don’t feel like an inspiration. But I am grateful beyond words that something about me has given that feeling to others.

And that’s so much better than a title. Any title.

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Middle-aged business exec who had aspirations of being a writer someday. I believe that lifting people up through authentic and vulnerable storytelling creates connection and possibility. My story may not be the most inspiring, but it is the one I know the best and have the right to share.

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