“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” – Dolly Parton

When I first met her, I felt that unique vibe. She was the creator of a three-day intensive training, which she led hour after hour with presence, poise and kindness. During the lunches we shared she was supportive, encouraging and generous. After each long day of training, she gave us homework for the night, and I never for once thought of skipping it and potentially disappoint her. She was delivering the best training I had ever experienced, setting standards so high that the only thing possible was showing up every day at our best.

Inspiration stems from the Latin inspirare, that literally means to blow into or breathe upon. In a figurative sense, it means to influence or affect others, or to induce someone to do something.

When you sit next to an inspiring leader, you automatically bring the best of your ability with you. Your concentration raises, your behaviours improve.

While observing some of the best role models I met, this is what I mentally noted down to describe my ideal “inspiring leaders”:

  • They know what they believe in, and show that is possible, openly, with what they do;
  • They live authentically and their meaning comes from within; their personality is always present, in all situations, they do not change with the wind;
  • They raise the standards with their presence, and their example generate amazement as it automatically defuses and discourages bad behaviours and arguments;
  • They show up with honesty, coherence and integrity and live by these principles consistently, striving to excellence;
  • They see the best part of people and want everyone to succeed. They generously provide valuable input for improvement, and, by doing that, they elevate the spirit of everyone around;
  • Their communication is consistent at 360°: they take a position explicitly and they back it up with facts that provide consistency;
  • They focus on their path only, knowing that everyone runs at their own tempo and that nothing else lies in their control other than their life.

Inspiring leaders have a powerful magical voice and engaging energy. When you meet one, you are drawn to their inner light. They shine for how they are, and their brightness enlightens your path too. They set the pace for the ones that see that light and walk in that direction, leaving mediocrity behind. Leaders like this may lose their formal job title but will never lose their own compass and influence.

If I consider what I have inspired others with, two things come to mind: my openness to new experiences and risks and my awareness on the fact that if you put in hard work, results arrive, but almost always not in the short-term. Surely enough, the road ahead is still full of potential.

How would your life change, if you would strive to be a living inspiration?