Day: June 30, 2020

How To Become An Inspiration To Others: 4 Essential Qualities

If I were to ask you to name the person who has inspired you the most, your first choice might be a celebrity. It also might be a professional public speaker, a successful business person, a spiritual guru, or some other public figure.

But in reality, the people who make the biggest, and most lasting impact on our lives are probably ordinary folks. They might not even consider themselves to be inspirational.

And that’s good, because it means that each of us could potentially impact other people’s lives for the better. There are people around us whose lives are falling apart, people who are looking to someone like you and me for help and inspiration.

So, what does it take to inspire others?

Here are the four characteristics which I believe to be the most important. These are qualities that have nothing to do with social status, education, cultural background or financial standing; just our humanity.

Authenticity: The Secret of Lasting Inspiration

Although these four qualities overlap, for me, authenticity has to take the first spot, because more often than not, inauthentic people let us down, badly.

Imagine you are listening to a well-known motivational speaker. You are captivated by his story, awe-struck by his charisma. It feels good to be in his presence. You wish you were like him. You follow him on social media. He becomes your idol and your role model.

Until it comes to light that such stories of courage and fortitude, which you found so inspiring, were all made up. Your idol’s reputation is in tatters, and followers like you are left distraught and disillusioned. How do you feel now? Not good, hey?

Thankfully that sort of thing doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

The thing is, we can feel equally let down by lesser-known people if what they’ve told us about themselves turns out to be untrue, so it’s best not to fall into that trap ourselves.

You might think your life story lacks excitement and drama, but that’s not a problem. To be truly inspirational, we don’t have to make up a story; we just have to be ourselves, warts and all.

Your life story is unique, with episodes of pain and happiness, failure and success: you don’t need to embellish, or belittle it. You just need to tell it as it is ­- others going through a similar experience need to hear it.

Empathy: showing genuine interest inspires trust

empathy qualities of an inspirational person

It is not your story per se that inspires, but the emotional connection it creates. Because, as John Maxwell points out, “you develop credibility with people when you connect with them and show that you genuinely want to help them”.

There are times when it’s right to share your own story with others, though they are more likely to be inspired if they can see how it relates to their experience and aspirations.

When people’s experience is the same as, or similar to our own, they feel we understand what they’re going through. Showing empathy could mean having to disclose something about ourselves. However, just being in touch with, and owning the feelings associated with our memories, can often speak louder than words.

To be inspired, your audience (be it just one person, or a crowd) need to feel that they matter and that you are genuinely interested in them as individuals. The best way to convey this is by actively listening to them. And I don’t mean just listening to what they say. If you’re connected emotionally, you’ll get insight into what they truly want to tell you.

So, be fully present – listen and be attentive.

Vulnerability: It Can Be Painful, But Inspiring

To inspire others, we need to come across as human, regardless of whether the conversation we’re having is on a personal level or in a professional capacity.

As mentioned above, if we want to connect with others on an emotional level, we might need to reveal a little of our true self. I realize this goes against the grain for those of us whose natural inclination is to put barriers around our emotions. However, (as a metaphor) safety barriers are usually stiff and unyielding, behaviours that are not particularly attractive or inspiring in us; so it pays to loosen up.

Now I’m not saying that we should make our mistakes or indiscretions public. Nor am I suggesting that we wear our hearts on our sleeves, or give vent to emotional outbursts. What I am saying is that it is okay to show emotion when relating our own story, or when we’re feeling the pain in other people’s stories.

A word of caution: pretense is off-putting and potentially offensive. Fake emotions have no place here, nor do crocodile tears. Genuine vulnerability, on the other hand, can be a powerful inspiration.

Being vulnerable means that we expose ourselves to the possibility of being hurt: this takes personal courage. Some see it as a weakness, but if tears come, let them. Don’t be embarrassed: “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful” (Brene Brown).

Boldness: Ordinary But Inspirational Acts of Courage

qualities of an inspirational person boldness

Some of the most inspiring people I’ve known are those who have shown courage and integrity. And I’m not thinking about heroic acts that get splashed across the media. Instead, I’m thinking about ordinary people who dare to face life when everything around them is crumbling. Such as:

  • People who persevere through multiple failures;
  • People who survive abusive and toxic relationships;
  • People with reason to seek revenge, but choose to forgive;
  • People who stand firm in the face of persecution or injustice;
  • People who stand up for others when they can’t do it for themselves.

Is this courage? Yes, both physical and moral.

It was Mark Twain who said: “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare”. But I think if we look into the lives of ordinary people, we’ll find that moral courage isn’t as rare as he imagined. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what we have to despite being afraid.

So, what’s the source of such courage?

For some, it’s an inner compulsion; perhaps driven by love, a sense of fairness, philosophy, or religious belief. What’s yours?

My courage comes from believing that I am never alone, because God is in me, and with me, at all times.

Inspired? Now It’s Your Turn

That’s it – the four essential qualities that could help you inspire other people. How many of these do you possess?

  • Authenticity
  • Empathy
  • Vulnerability
  • Boldness

You certainly know your life story; you just need to have confidence that relating relevant parts of it can help others get through similar experiences. Being empathetic might require practice, but you can start by being genuinely interested in people, even if that entails making yourself vulnerable.

So be bold. Go for it. At least make a start. Who knows, you might find that you enjoy it so much you will want to make a career of it. If you do, then possessing these four qualities would be an excellent foundation that will put you ahead of the pack.

Finally, a word from Mother Teresa, one of the most ‘ordinary’ inspirational people of all time: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” That’s inspiration at its best.

The post How To Become An Inspiration To Others: 4 Essential Qualities appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Strap in — a virtual Tour de France kicks off this weekend on the online racing platform Zwift

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on all manner of professional sports this year, and cycling has not been immune. For example, the best-known race on the planet, the Tour de France, normally staged in July, has had to be pushed back to August 29 through September 20.

That doesn’t mean that the world — and professional cyclists — can’t enjoy world-class racing this summer. In fact, beginning this coming weekend, 23 top men’s teams and 17 women’s teams will participate in a virtual version of the event that’s being hosted by six-year-old Zwift, after it was chosen by the official race organizer of the real tour, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), as its partner on the event.

It’s a coup for the Long Beach, Calif., company whose multiplayer video game technology is used by both amateur and pro cyclists and that, according to Outside magazine, is now the biggest player in the growing online racing world.

Investors have noticed, funding the company to the tune of $170 million so far, says cofounder and CEO Eric Min.

This Tour has the potential to drive many more users its way, too.

For one thing, the virtual version of the event, which will feature six stages that last roughly hour over the next three weekends beginning this Saturday — it gets underway with the first women’s stage, followed immediately by the men — will be broadcast in more than 130 countries. (In the U.S., it will be broadcast on NBC Sports.) It’s hard to imagine another way for a company like Zwift to get so much exposure as quickly.

The race is also open to any cyclists on its platform who want to race on the same roads as the professionals, meaning anyone who wants to “compete” in this virtual tour needs to sign up for an account, though it’s worth noting a few things.

First, mere mortals won’t be racing at the same time as the cyclists in the Tour but during mass participation events during the week that will ostensibly provide them the chance to experience exactly what the pros went through and to compare their power, heart rate, cadence and other data to their pro rider heroes.

Also, Zwift is a subscription service. Users can check out the platform for a free, seven-day trial, but after that, Zwift charges $15 per month. Riders also need a smart trainer, which costs around $300. Zwift doesn’t make its own trainers — yet — but its software works with the hardware of a dozen or so companies.

Unsurprisingly, Min sounded both excited and terrified when we caught up with him last week to talk about the race, whose first two stages will be held in Zwift’s existing game world, Watopia, with the other stages orchestrated in virtual versions of real courses from the race.

Though Zwift has staged virtual races before —  including the Giro d’Italia, which is basically the Tour de France for Italy, and the Vuelta a Espana, an annual multi-stage race in Spain — it “doesn’t get any bigger than this,” said Min, who told us the idea was hatched six weeks ago with ASO and that Zwift has been working furiously to prepare for the race ever since.

It could prove a turning point for the outfit. It already has nearly two million accounts, and while subscribers ebb and flow, depending on the time of year, the virtual Tour is an opportunity for some of those riders to “reengage,” Min says, adding that Zwift has been growing 50 percent year over year, and has unsurprisingly seen pick-up accelerate throughout the pandemic.

Zwift doesn’t just cater to competitive athletes, Min stresses, saying that more than half the company’s customers are overweight and that, unlike Peleton, its customers are drawn less to particular instructors and more to the idea of being part of a club where they can train, take part in events, and compete with one another another, either in a public way or by via private rides wherein users share maps with friends, for example.

Either way, both amateur rider and professional racers will undoubtedly have high expectations of the Tour itself, even while it comes with more inherent challenges, including less time to break away from fellow riders than in the real-world tour, where each stage can take five or six hours.

Min thinks Zwift is ready. On our call, he discussed how Zwift convincingly creates drag, for example, walking through the software’s calculations, including a rider’s weight and body mass and the terrain they’re on and whether a rider is receiving draft from riders in front. Apply resistance to the machine  or easing it is what gives riders a sense of motion and inertia. “It’s not exactly like outdoor riding,” said Min, but combined with the software’s visual tools, meant to fool the mind, “it gets pretty darn close.

And that software, including the Tour maps, is now largely done, Min said. Now, Zwift just needs to ensure that its broadcast tools work as well as possible, among other last-minute priorities.

“We’ll do some dry runs [this] week. Then it’s showtime,” he said, before adding: “The stakes are pretty high. It has to be rock solid.”

Gorgeous Google Doodle celebrates Marsha P. Johnson for the last day of Pride Month

Gorgeous Google Doodle celebrates Marsha P. Johnson for the last day of Pride Month

As a tumultuous Pride Month draws to a close, Google is marking it with a tribute to transgender artist, activist, and drag performer Marsha P. Johnson.

Johnson was a central and beloved figure in New York’s gay scene from the 1960s onward, and is widely recognized as one of the first people to fight back against police harassing patrons during a raid on the Stonewall Hotel. This sparked the Stonewall riots, commemorations of which became Pride celebrations. 

Alongside Sylvia Rivera, Johnson also founded Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Activist Revolutionaries, or STAR, to offer housing, food, and other assistance to trans and non-binary youth. She said the “P” in her name was there for when people questioned her gender or presentation — it stood for “Pay it no mind.”  Read more…

More about Google Doodle, Pride Month 2020, Marsha P Johnson, Black Trans Lives Matter, and Culture