Stop Trying To Inspire: Rekindle Your Own Fire First

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Over the years, one of the biggest issues my clients have dealt with has been that of inspirational leadership. Some have been emerging leaders seeking the “recipe” for turning on the commitment of others, particularly members of the teams they lead. Others have been established leaders who’ve wanted to increase their inspirational leadership. How do you inspire the best in other people?

A good executive coach can help you skill-up with techniques to help bring out the best in your people. But whether you own a business or work as a leader (emerging or established) in an organization, the first step toward greater inspirational leadership is to stop trying to inspire others before you’ve done the work to rekindle your own personal inspiration. And the best coaches help you do THAT as a top priority.

Often, a leader is “under the gun” to somehow create the kind of gung-ho attitude in his team during tough economic times that seems to exist more naturally in good times. A good manager can movtivate her people, even in the tough times, and sometimes there are speeches you can make and words you can publish that’ll make the general fire burn brighter. Sometimes the “effort” method can have some effect. But in my experience, the “happy accident” of inspiring your people without trying (or, certainly, without appearing to try) is many times more effective than the best pep talks and incentive memos.


Inspire yourself first, and your natural behaviors will help fire up your people. You know by now, or soon will, that people generally want to be inspired, even (sometimes especially) at work. If you are an inspired person, you’ll be an inspiring person, and an inspiring leader.

Spend your time in activities that inspire you. Don’t ignore the “must do” part of your managerial agenda, but if you find yourself spending your entire life energy on the managerial equivalent of fixing a leaky toilet, rearrange your priorities. You can’t off-load all of your unsavory duties. But often leaders immerse themselves in things others should be doing simply because it’s what they (the leaders) know how to do, and what makes them feel successful. It’s a good way to avoid stepping up to a true leadership role. Start by finding truly inspiring (but still productive) ways to spend your time, and see if you can’t get the plumbing projects to fall naturally off your schedule.

That goes for the part of your day that doesn’t have to be spent at work. Get a hobby, or do some volunteer work, that helps keep your fire burning and reminds you that you’re living for more than your job. This time of year, I sing Christmas carols with a professional group, and I don’t do it for the little bit of money I make. I do it for the inspiration. I highly recommend that you find something equivalent.

Put inspiring things into your brain. Don’t ignore reality, but don’t spend your life reading and listening about the troubles in the world and in your business. The best leaders are optimists… and only optimistic leaders can be deeply inspiring to others. So stay on top of the news, both of the world and of the executive suites… but get some inspiring books and programs into your brain’s diet as well. Remember, your attitude will be the most infectious tool at your disposal, good or bad. Keep it upbeat.

Be sensitive and empathetic with others… but don’t take on their problems as your own. That’s a short road toward a dismal attitude. When others are gloomy, see if you can’t be the ray of sunshine in their lives. Taking on that challenge will keep you from being the gloomy one.

Inspirational leadership is not really an accident at all… but the best, most inspiring leaders turn their people on without trying, and they make it look easy, because they’re happy and inspired themselves. The attitude filters into their entire being, from thought to behavior to action. And their teammates, who are looking for the slightest excuse to be inspired, find that excuse in such leaders. As if by accident.


 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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