Find Things To Value In Yourself And In Others

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

The most inspirational leaders are, first, inspired people. Though they might seem scarce, you can still find inspired folks out there, going through the same hard times and working the same kinds of jobs as everyone else… but they set themselves naturally apart through their upbeat everyday actions. And if you study them, as I have, you find they start by developing an ability to appreciate people.

I’ve written a primer on “practical empathy” called “Feelings For Thinkers,” and so far have shared the content exclusively with my clients, many of whom seek to become more inspirational as leaders. Here’s a glimpse at one of the key concepts in the book: to be inspired, and to inspire others, you have to be an appreciative person, balancing your appreciation for yourself with the ability to appreciate others.

Appreciation means to have a deeper understanding of a person, and to find something of value in your interactions with him or her. It can be a controversial term, and it’s certainly more emotional than logical. That’s why I call the book “Feelings For Thinkers” – most of my clients see themselves as thinkers, and they see the opposition of the terms “appreciative” and “critical” right away. And they want to be seen as “critical” thinkers.


Part of my coaching is to point out to folks that you can be a critical thinker without being a critical person. You can look at a bit of analysis performed by a colleague and, using your critical thinking skills, see flaws or areas for improvement in the analysis… but, as an inspirational (and empathetic) leader, you can point out those flaws without being critical of the colleague who’s doing the work. That’s empathy. And it’s a major indicator of the type of inspirational leadership that makes people willing to walk through walls for some leaders where they have a hard time being motivated by others.

Think about it: if all you ever tell me is how sub-standard I am as a person and a teammate, you’re not likely to inspire me to do my best. If, on the other hand, you are a leader skilled in both practical empathy and critical thinking, I’m likely to view you as a good teacher on the content of my work and also as a person who appreciates me and my effort. I’ll want to please you – at least I’ll want not to disappoint you – and I’ll become better over time (as will my work) because of your inspirational leadership.

You don’t want to overdo it, of course, to the point of being seen as incapable of criticism. You don’t want to be ingratiating. But most of my clients fear this perception way too much. They are far more inclined to under-use empathy and appreciation, not to overuse it.

Whether you own your own business, work as a leader in a shop or office, or are simply an emerging leader who wants to “brand” your leadership with an inspirational flavor, think about what you’re doing to develop your ability to appreciate people. Find the flaws in analysis and argument, sure, but find the value in people (including yourself). It’s not an impossible combination; in fact, the most inspiring leaders do it all the time, develop it, and make it the “natural event” in their everyday work.

 Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.Those with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to make money “one less thing to worry about” can learn more about working with Michael at wanting to jump-start their vitality can browse through the best (and most travel-friendly) nutraceuticals on the market at and his wife, Kathryn, divide their time between homes in California and Colorado. They are very proud of their offspring, who grew up to include a homemaker, a rock star, a service talent, and a television expert. Two grandchildren also warm their hearts! Visit Michael’s web site at
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