10 Things That Inspire Me

The thing that ultimately and truly inspires me is the way people – ordinary people like you and me – interact with our world. Well so far 9, last one to come when the inspiration hits me.

1. Making strangers smile. Everyone took a risk. The guy who risked rejection by standing around in public asking for hugs, to be turned down and ignored over and over again. The little old lady who starts it all off by hugging a complete stranger. And then when it gets banned, 10,000 people thought it was worth signing a petition over. It’s all about the power of a small gesture of affection from a stranger.
2. Thinking out of the box to improve people’s daily lives in small ways. Rather than thinking about “how can we educate people on how taking the stairs is better for them?” or encouraging people to make a commitment to being healthier, the people at Volkswagen just asked people to have some more fun. And the byproduct of that fun, a touch of exercise in a busy day.
3. The Magic of Reality.As said by Richard Dawkins in promoting one of the most beautiful children’s books ever written: “The real world as understood scientifically has magic of its own, a spellbinding beauty which is all the more magical because it is real and because we can understand how it works. […] The magic of reality is […] quite simply wonderful; wonderful and real, wonderful because it’s real.”I’m not an atheist, nor necessarily a Richard Dawkins fan (he is, however, a great scientist). But he is right. The magic of reality is quite simply wonderful.
4. Surprising people. Sometimes the people who you least expect it from can show you something incredible.
5. Taking Flight. The rush of jumping out of a plane and feeling as though gravity doesn’t have a hold on you anymore is a sensation that is second to none. Doing it as a team, working together to make something big, something incredibly challenging, and something beautiful. That’s powerful.
6. Putting yourself out there, and getting others to join in, too.
Matt doesn’t know how to dance, but Matt doesn’t care. He does it anyway. And he shows us that other people don’t care either. He breaches language and cultural barriers, brings a smile to hundreds (thousands?) of people around the world, and gets them to dance badly with him. All by having the courage to do it first.
7. The Power of Social Networks. A random act of kindness followed by a single facebook post sparked a movement that resulted in raising $100,000 for a local food bank from donors all over the world. People may be wary of facebook, it may scare us to share so much of our lives with total strangers. But it has the power to bring people together in an unprecedented way to do incredible things from thousands of miles apart.
8. Building incredible things from simple things. The hallmark of LEGO is the ability to take something ordinary – a little block all by itself – and build something extraordinary with it. By starting with something simple, you can create anything. And you don’t have to start with LEGO.
9. Global Communities. My dad is part of a community of folk musicians who play Irish music together. They are a welcoming bunch, people show up to teach and learn new tunes, drink some Guinness, and enjoy themselves. And the best part – they do it all over the world – you can find them in virtually every major city on the planet. On vacation somewhere? You could show up at a session and be met with welcome arms. But these communities are not limited to folk musicians – I’ve found it in swing dancers. The skydivers have it, too – once you have your license you can show up at virtually any dropzone in the world and join the party.