THE BLOG
05/20/2013 02:09 pm ET Updated Jul 20, 2013

What Is the True Meaning of Inspiration?

When we think about inspiration, what inspires us most are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. We appreciate when someone has the ability and willingness to be selfless, creative, innovative, or just dares to be different. Mother Teresa. Gandhi. Martin Luther King, Jr. All of them were ordinary people who decided that the world needed their help -- true leaders who believed that they could change the world and who, despite nearly impossible odds and tremendous opposition, weren't afraid to try.

The beautiful thing about inspiration of this kind is that "ordinary" part. Certainly, each of these people had that charismatic ability to lead others to better things. But each of them came from backgrounds of great poverty and difficulty. Each of them faced giant mountains to climb. They managed to reach the summit of those mountains not simply because they were great leaders, but because they were not afraid to be who they were. They were authentic. They demanded authenticity in those who followed them, as well.

What it means is that too many of us fail to see the greatness within ourselves. Too many of us assume that a person is only great if he/she makes national headlines. But press isn't necessary. In fact, sometimes the most inspiring people in the world go completely unnoticed. What inspires are the people who do something to better humanity in their own small corner of the world. They don't need headlines or accolades. They need only to know that they stepped up to make things better.

Understand that you can be an inspiration to others, no matter what you feel you have or have not achieved. Even if you feel that you have not yet reached the endpoint, and even if you feel like you have reached a low point, you have the ability to inspire. No matter who you are, giving back and inspiring others comes equipped with many benefits. You never know who you're going to impact when you give -- and you never know who might be in position to reciprocate if you ever find yourself in a time of need. Giving back leaves a legacy that will live on far longer than you will. You will be amazed at the way inspiring others makes you feel. In fact, it is the only feeling that rivals the one you get when you realize you have achieved your dream.

How to Give Back and Inspire Others

By now, you're well aware of the benefits that come from giving back and inspiring others. The question then becomes, how do you do it? Certainly there are many opportunities by way of existing charities and outreach programs, but on an individual level, there are also a number of tips to consider when you're thinking about how you might help those around you. Embrace the following points and you will go from wanting to inspire people to actually inspiring people on a daily basis.

1. Act and show.

Don't simply say that you want to serve as an inspiration; get out there and do something. Commit to an initiative. Reach out to someone who has recognized you as a leader. Show people who you are as an inspiration. It is one thing to act on that desire to serve as an inspiration, but it is entirely another to live as that inspiration. This all goes back to being authentic. Follow through with the things you promise. Be true to your brand. Be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. This will inspire those around you to do the same.

2. Provide others with the blueprint.

There is a reason you have achieved all that you have achieved. You had the skills, yes, but you also had the blueprint. Now that you have reached the top, you are bound to receive requests for advice from people who hope to be just like you one day. Some of these people you will know. Some you will not. Provided they are respectful and willing to learn, all are deserving of your time and wisdom.

3. Become a mentor.

One of the greatest ways to inspire is to serve as a mentor, but not all mentor/mentee relationships make sense. When considering someone to mentor, you have to make sure that your background and experience aligns with what they hope to achieve. More importantly, you have to ready yourself to be completely open and honest. When people look at you as a mentor, they believe in you completely. If you aren't totally authentic in your advice to them, you are doing them a disservice.

Allow me to leave you with one final important note: You might be thinking that the only time in your life when you can inspire is when you have achieved your dream. That is simply not so. No matter how far along you are on the path to greatness, you are further along than someone else. This person could certainly use your help and advice. To this person, you can be a great inspiration. So when it comes time to give back, there is never a better time than now.

For more by R. Kay Green, click here.

For more on wisdom, click here.

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