Who's Inspiring You?

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Posted by The Editors on September 1, 2011
Who's Inspiring You?

Yesterday I read a particularly encouraging post on the Harvard Business Review website called “Who’s on Your Fridge?” The author, Peter Bregman tells a story of meeting Marvin, an inspirational 77-year-old who was in the middle of a vigorous boxing session with a trainer at his gym. Bregman was so inspired by the man, he snaps a photo him to post on his refrigerator. The photo serves as a daily inspiration of what he perceived Marvin to be—an energetic old man with a sunny disposition, and someone Bregman aspires to be like.

The point of Bregman’s article—I promise, I’m getting there—is that everyday we should take in positive energy and inspiration from the people we are meeting. He particularly hones in on strangers, but I think there’s a lesson to be learned about drawing inspiration from your coworkers.

As Bregman says, we focus on what people are doing wrong, we gossip and complain about it, and ultimately, many of us end up passive-aggressively seething at them. We ask ourselves, how could he/she/they do that?

But what if instead we put on rose-colored glasses and choose to see what inspires us about them? What if we took mental snapshots of coworkers at their best, most inspiring moments and choose to remember those instants?

In August I blogged about why it’s important to be positive at work, and I think what Bregman uncovers in his article is one more tactic for improving your outlook at work. Many times our coworkers bring us down—but you shouldn’t let them. Focus on their innate, inspiring qualities. For instance, if your coworker is bugging you on a particular day, make a choice to think about what an inspiring public speaker they are, or how compassionate they were when your grandmother died.

Of course, this method isn’t always possible. Some people are downright uninspiring. In which case, they don’t deserve to have their picture taken for your fridge, as Bregman would reason. But sometimes you may find someone who has collected enough fridge-worthy moments that they'd make a great mentor—and that’s someone who you can look to for guidance when you’re well into your career.

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