“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” -Albert Schwitzer
I came across this quote as I was researching this article. You see I thought I was going to simply write about finding inspiration in our lives to help motivate us to begin living a healthier lifestyle by eating right and exercising. And I caught myself interchanging the words inspiration and motivation as if they were the same thing. But what I found out is that there is a distinction between inspiration and motivation, which although subtle, is important to recognize.
In considering the difference between them it‘s easy to see why inspiration is more compelling, powerful and long lasting. Motivation helps to induce, incite, or arouse someone else, particularly to impel some action or reaction from them. On the other hand, inspiration is an electrifying energy that encourages another person to be their best. It is an invitation for someone to become passionate and to add real value to their lives.
Since I began coaching individuals toward their fitness goals I often thought my job was to motivate them to begin living a healthy lifestyle. But that diminishes my role to simply getting people to “do things.” What I should hopefully be doing is inspiring you to help move you toward your potential. Even if you’re currently unsure of what your potential is. Someone who is inspirational should fill others with energy and passion.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to find out if you are being motivated or are truly inspired.
- Do you focus on the outcome of your performance?
- Do you find yourself comparing your performance to others?
- Do you experience times when you are moving forward and other times when you stall out?
- Does fear keep you from taking risks or trying new things?
- Do you waste a lot of time feeling guilty?
- Do you feel a strong sense of purpose and clarity?
- Do you start the day with intent, eager and excited?
- Do you enjoy the process, not getting caught up in end result?
- Do you take the time to be reflective about your life path and who you are becoming?
- Do you have ways to hold yourself accountable?
If you answer yes to some of the first 5 questions then you may be relying too much on motivation. However if you answer yes to some of the last 5 questions, you are truly inspired.
Hopefully you’ll find that although I may have mistakenly been using the words motivation and inspiration in the wrong context, I have been inspirational in my articles, and more importantly the way I personally live a healthy lifestyle.
It is said that someone who is inspirational “shows up.” They are present. It feels good to be around them. We feel accepted, appreciated, understood and important when we’re in the presence of an inspirational leader. They are self-aware. They know themselves and are comfortable in their own skin. Their inspiration in part comes from their honesty, and having learned from many challenges, setbacks and real experiences. They have come to a clear understanding of who they are and what they stand for and are not afraid to share that with others.
I honestly believe in an individual’s potential. When I coach others I often find myself knowing what that person can accomplish even before they do. And I sincerely enjoy watching others not only learn and become self sufficient but growing and appreciating what it is they can achieve.
I read, “The beauty of inspiration is that it transcends the next goal and encourages real engagement in life. Above all inspiration, once ignited, fuels itself and doesn’t rely on external sources to keep the fires burning.” For the most part I agree, however even if you get to the point where you continue to be inspired to live a healthy lifestyle, there will be times when a motivational force shows up and makes that fire burn even hotter.