I couldn't wait to sit down to write this post. After my brother successfully finished the NYC Marathon on Sunday, I was pumped up, excited, filled up. Simply put, he inspired me - by his actions, by the commitment and the courage.
It made my wonder, what is this thing we call, inspiration?
I looked it up and from a definition perspective I found comments like: to heighten, to intensify, to stimulate, to encourage. I do certainly feel these things, even today three days later.
AND, I feel something else. It's been hard to put my finger on it, so it took a while for this blog post to be created. I wondered over the last three days if inspiration comes in compartments, like being inspired on the job versus in your personal life. It occurred to me that I have had tremendous energy for all parts of my life these last few days, so the answer seems to be, no. I can be inspired in my personal life and it carries over to all of my undertakings.
So how does something that I did NOT do, come to have such a significant impact on my personal life, my professional life, even in my alone moments?
Then it hit me. When the undertaking, or "enterprise," is one of scope, risk, and complication and we can witness the undertaking first hand, cheer from the sidelines, hold the belief and trust that all will be well, we are forever changed by what is possible.
My brother is 38 years old, has three kids, is an amateur runner at best and a year ago Thanksgiving he said he intended to run this race. At the Holidays, with six siblings, all with kids running around, lots of chaos and fun, someone who says they're gonna run 26 miles seemed more funny than plausible. And so I did not take much note of this declaration.
But as I cheered him on Sunday, I wondered about the deep sacrifice he made to train for this undertaking. My teacher says, 'sacrifice' really means 'to make sacred again.' To get up every week, knowing you had one less week to train, or that this week it was three short 8 mile runs, or next week it will be a long 13 mile run, and on and on. I now understand my teacher's comment. This had to come from the heart; it can not be your mind that finishes this undertaking.
Maybe that's a piece of what is inspiring: It is not a focus on what we give up but a focus on what we give.
Three hours after the race, my brother sent an email to so many of the people who supported him during the race. I was touched by the humility and grace with which he thanked everyone. He called out the moments when he saw them, at 96th Street, 110th, First Avenue, thanking them all, and saying how much their support made a difference.
Perhaps that's what leadership really looks like - to set an intention, to give of yourself, and to be so grateful for the support and belief of others.
PS, I also discovered that the word inspire means 'to inhale deeply.' When was the last time you inhaled deeply?
Mine was Sunday afternoon!
And it still feels amazing. Thanks, Neal.