Lately, I met some inspiring folks. And I told them so. Not to get their attention or sympathy but because I truly meant it.
I am equally impressed with people that live their dreams and those that make things happen. Here are four examples of the inspiring people I met:
After graduation my friend Alex was struggling to get a job. He was surprisingly young for a master graduate (he did a speedy uni career) and had no practical experience. With the UK’s tough economy he could find nothing but unpaid internships (despite his top grades and intellect).
He had lived on benefits for half year, stayed on friends’ sofas and sent out so many applications that he felt devastated. So he turned towards books for comfort. He spent his days at the university’s library, reading about the history of the city when an idea stroke him. He could just become self-employed and offer history tours through town!
Two years down the line he tells me in October that he’s fully booked right into Christmas. He has won a tourism award and built solid partnerships with businesses and organisations in the city. He even donates part of his profit to charity and is planning to buy a house. And yes, it was real hard work.
The busy travel reporter
My former colleague David, who is an in-house editor by day, recently updated me on what else he does. He takes on writing gigs, where, as a travel reporter, he explores exciting places. He went around Scotland to taste whiskys, went to Iceland and just jetted to Beijing for a weekend to figure out whether Beijing can be done in a weekend from Scotland(!). On weekends he works at a national paper. He basically works 7 days a week AND is a world traveling reporter. And yes, it is hard work!
The expat turned New York Times journalist
Jessica quit her 9 to 5 job in the US to venture out to Argentina on her own. Initially she taught English and soon picked up writing gigs as a Buenos Aires based journalist. She met her Colombian boyfriend and two years later relocated to Bogota. Her career thrived in the Colombian capital and she was published in the New York Times, FastCo and Washington Post! And, once again, it was real hard work!
The inspiring retiree
Some people’s energy never ceases. Like Jairo, a seventy something Colombian, who studies German! “Never stop learning” he tells me when asked about his motivation. He wants to stay fit mentally. Although he struggles to keep up with the pace of the teenagers in his class, he never ever gives up and keeps his smile.
He has now moved on to B2 level (from A1 just a year ago!).
I have been in touch with all four recently and I noticed 3 things they have in common.
1. They inspire
They all inspire me. After having been in touch with either of them, I felt much more energetic, optimistic about the future and hopeful. I, too, wanted to do things and felt more like I can achieve things. They might be extraordinary in what they do but when it boils down they are ordinary people like me (plus their energy, intellect and motivation). I, too, can aim high and succeed. It’s a snowball system.
Inspiration makes the world go round – it’s a snowball system!
2. They take life with both hands
Instead of sitting there and waiting for happiness, success or fitness to happen they become active and DO things: take a course, make a move, contact the right people, work away and apply. They don’t let themselves be pulled down by misfortune or struggle (at least not for too long). Yes, it’s hard work BUT it’s so worth it!
Inspiring people DO things.
3. They are passionate and do things they enjoy
Alex has a thing for history and lecturing. On his tours he can do just that! Naturally he’s good at it. Jessica loves to write, research, talk with people and have adventures along the way. She makes a good journalist – same for David. One must have a lot of passion for a task to be doing it on weekends, too. And Jairo is genuinely curious about other cultures and the process of learning languages. He teaches English himself and has lived in the US for twenty years.
One is more likely to succeed in the things they enjoy.
So, naturally, what else could I have said to them than my honest “You are an inspiration!”? I wasn’t fishing for a “you, too!” or their sympathy. They were true compliments.
I bet you know people that inspire you. Well, go on and tell them. Because they may not know that they are. Some of mine were certainly surprised, at least flattered.
(Note: Be careful not to make it a habit to say it it to everyone you meet. Like “I love you” or “How are you?” it will lose its actual meaning.)