Who Inspires You?

11/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Isha Judd Spiritual teacher; author, 'Why Walk When You Can Fly'

From September 26th til 29th, the Dalai Lama will be joined in Vancouver by a group of visionaries, including several Nobel Prize winners, for an international peace summit. Bishop Desmond Tutu and Eckhart Tolle are among those who will be present. Such an inspiring group of individuals got me thinking about role models, heroes and the figures who move our hearts.

Some individuals inspire millions through their life's work. We can be inspired by artists, leaders, actors, authors, scientists, geniuses and athletes. Anyone who challenges the limits of human capacity can capture our attention and evoke wonderment in our imagination. They make us feel that the possibilities are endless, that the limits we have put upon ourselves can also be surmounted. One thing that fascinates me is just how many of the individuals who have captured the attention of the world have done so against all the odds. From Oprah Winfrey to Coco Chanel, these stories of rags to riches seem to light the spark of possibility in everyone.

Today, we attempt to mass produce the metamorphosis from normalcy to celebrity, through the countless reality shows and Idol spin-offs that have spread across television networks around the world. The Susan Boyle phenomenon represents the fairy-tale delight we take in the idea of that discovery, the diamond in the rough, the beauty and magic within the most ordinary of us all.

These people are showing you your own potential. If you admire something in another, look for ways to be more of that yourself. The ego tells us, They're a better human being than I am, but the voice of the heart whispers, You can be that. That is your greatness.

I admire people from all walks of life. Nelson Mandela, whose acceptance of reality helped him find internal freedom even in imprisonment. Michelle Bachelet, the president of Chile, who is a humanitarian before she is a politician, and whose commitment to the welfare of her people has weathered public disdain to garner her the highest approval ratings for a president in the last 20 years; like a mother, warm but firm, who knows her children will thank her later for insisting on doing the right thing. I admire Osho, whose relentless upheaval of the constraints and rigidity of a culture based in fear made him infamous in life and revered in death, and Mother Teresa, whose compassionate service spoke a language beyond the barriers of religion and touched the hearts of so many.

My grandmother was also a great source of inspiration in my life. Her courage and unconditional acceptance helped me trust myself and my ability. Today, I am inspired by all those who work to elevate the consciousness of humanity, and have the fortune of living and working with a group of individuals dedicated to exactly that.

Ultimately, I am inspired by people's hearts. I admire greatness, irrespective of the views of the individual. I am touched by the passion of visionaries from totally different, sometimes directly opposing, walks of life. They may come from competing political parties. They may have totally incompatible belief systems. It's not their politics I admire, or their point of view; it's the power of their hearts, the truth of their hearts.

That's what life is all about; it's about being true to your heart. It's not about being right or wrong. If you vote for the left, the right are going to say you're wrong. If you vote for the right, the left are going to say you're wrong. There will always be that duality. There will always be someone who agrees and someone who disagrees.

The Catholics think Jesus is great; I'm sure there are millions of people who don't. Does that mean he isn't a great inspiration, just because many people disagree?

Who inspires you in your life? And why? Let those heroes not be just an ideal that you look up to, but a reminder of your own potential. You don't need to commit extraordinary feats to live an extraordinary life, and you don't need to have the eyes of the world upon your actions to make them valuable. That value is set by you, through your own passion, your own commitment to growth and evolution as an individual. Let's use our heroes to be more. To walk towards those ideals we admire so much.

Who are your heroes? Maybe some of the people I have mentioned, or maybe somebody else. What have they taught you about yourself and your own potential? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

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Isha's latest book and movie, Why Walk When You Can Fly? explains her system for self-love and the expansion of consciousness. Her website is