The end of the year is a time of many things in modern organizations—budgets, performance reviews, awkward holiday parties—but it’s also a great time to strengthen our relationships with others. One way to do that is through inspiration.

To inspire someone literally means to ‘breathe life into’. It’s that feeling we get when someone sees us, accepts us, and values us, when they leave us feeling appreciated for who we are and acknowledged for what we’ve done.

Another way to think about it is being ‘in spirit’ with others; knowing them so well that we understand how they think and what makes them tick. Being in spirit with others is one of the secrets to inspiring them—if we know what they value and what is important to them, and then recognize it authentically, we will leave them inspired. The trick is doing it authentically. (This is not a fake it till you make it situation—you have to really mean it.)

If you are not someone who inspires others very easily or very naturally, the following exercise is for you:

Part 1:

Think about some people you want to inspire. (Here’s a hint, pick people you want to have a healthy relationship with.)

Reflect on a few of the following questions:

  1. What do you appreciate or value about them?
  2. What positive impact have they had on you?
  3. What do they value about themselves—what do they really want to be recognized and acknowledged for?
  4. What positive impact have they had on others?

Part 2:

Tell them. Write them a note. Leave them a voicemail. Text them, tweet them, email them, Instagram them. Ideally you would send it in a way they would like—but doing it is better than doing it perfectly.

As a leader, this exercise is a really good use of your time. We are in the optimism business—if our people are not hopeful about the future and feeling good about themselves, we can’t do great things. Mediocre things, maybe, but great things, no way. It’s also a great way of ending the year on a high note.



Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

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