By Chris Klonoski
Attempting to inspire others is a stunningly big ask.
It risks crossing boundaries. And it can feel presumptuous. It’s an attempt to elicit feelings in another, an effort to say, “I want you to feel ‘this’ way.”
Until you shift the frame from manipulation to invitation.
Offering a little inspiration – as something your audience can participate in or dismiss – is an invitation. It’s, “join me, if it suits you.”
Invitation gives space to a sense of agency. And invitation guarantees your audience actually wants to participate, casually or actively.
Your business or job is an expression of who you are and what you believe. And people, in general, respond to openness and vulnerability and authentic expression. When you share in very real ways – your vision and mission, your story, your beliefs and your way of doing business – your content will always be inspiring to the right audience.
Inspire with your mission.
You started this business for a reason, what was it? Were you seeking freedom? Did you have a product you wanted to introduce to the world? Did you want to work with a group of creatives, or optimists or do-gooders? Do you provide a well-known service, but you deliver it in a better way? Revisit your origin story, and tell it again.
Or remember your origin story, and share how far you’ve come from it. People love to hear about overcoming adversity, thinking in new ways, or creating something from nothing. Tell your story and know that it will find the right listeners. Your reason why will always be relevant – and it will always be interesting.
Inspire with your actions.
Have you done something way out of the box recently? Did your team give back to your community in a different or fun way? Have you joined a professional organization that challenges you, maybe made you rethink a long held belief? Share that anecdote. Post those pictures. Your experience is valid. And if it was amusing or compelling to you, it likely will be to others.
Inspire with your passion.
You may sell nuts and bolts – which literally hold things together (they are important!) – but it’s the arts or the animal shelter or distributing comfort bags to the homeless that makes your heart sing. Talk about that. Taking pride in your work because you do it well AND it helps you do things is a great story to tell: My business, Widgets Found Here, is proud to be the premier sponsor of this, that or the other event which is raising money to support sending underserved kids to camp this summer.
Now you are connecting to your audience on two levels – your successful business and a worthy cause. This is the best kind of connection because it is based on something real and something that matters.
Inspire with celebration.
When nearly one in five businesses fail in the first year – yours didn’t. That’s something to celebrate. You just hired your 100th employee. Or maybe you’re opening a new location. You have a new logo. You have a new machine that changes your speed. Or you put your business back together after a flood. These are all worthy of mentioning – and celebrating. They encourage some give and take – and maybe a little commiseration over surviving one of life’s challenges.
People love good news, and we are all on the hunt for a reason to be happy. Share yours.