Who inspires you? (part 1)

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"Don't ask me who I follow, ask yourself!" Thanks, I guess? This was the response I received on the phone last week after asking about this lady's interests. Usually it's the first question I ask people - what books they read, people they follow, and advice they cling onto.

"Who inspires you? Who's currently where you want to be?," she continued.

Okay, okay. I get it. Me - who inspires me? To which I said, "Well - that's a good question"

I've been deflecting these questions for a long time now, asking other people - anyone who's name is not Jordyn - all with the hope I'd stumble across some miracle book or piece of advice that would bring the answer to me.

She said, "Well - whoever they are, whenever you figure that out - study them. Study how they think."

I had never received such advice before, to study how someone thinks. Normally, if I read a book, I wouldn't really study it, never mind how the author thought.

Step 1: Who Inspires You?

In order to get closer to studying those who inspire me, I made a list of the qualities I admire in others and wish to possess:

Adaptable, Courageous, Self-Aware

Empathetic, Altruistic, Grateful,

Unconventional, Confident, Unrealistic

Love for Life! 

The following people may not exhibit all of these qualities, but they do have one thing in common: they do good.

 Maya Angelou

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage. - Maya Angelou

Before reading her autobiographies, I was captured by Maya Angelou's words. When she shared stories, each word slowly pulled at your heart, tugging out feeling, and making you empathetic for what happened. She spread this understanding of humanity like no other.

In her books, you see her courage. When she leaves her son to perform overseas and provide a better life, asks a dinner guest to leave after she uses language Ms. Angelou does not approve of, and organizes a peaceful protest in Ghana after just a short time living there.

Though these qualities are not easily borne, her autobiographies lend insight into her thoughts during the most vital moments of her life.

Jada Pinkett Smith & Will Smith

I think that with marriages, people have to understand that you have to look at your marriage and understand what is needed in your marriage - not what people think your marriage should be or what people want your marriage to be. - Jada Pinkett Smith

This couple inspires me: their confidence in themselves, and courage to express their - perhaps unconventional - way of treating their relationship. They are both strong individuals who have come together with a defined purpose. By having a defined purpose, they treat their relationship as something great and of ultimate priority. This is how I wish to treat my relationship.

Individually, they've expressed some amazing characteristics as well.

Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity. - Will Smith

Will Smith's confidence in his abilities and "unrealistic" way of thinking is inspiring. One of the biggest realizations I've had has been from this simple quote. [Note from Lifehacker: Being realistic comes with a sense of security, comfort, and a natural inclination to find the path of least resistance, discouraging risks. It may be scary, but sometimes you need that special kind of crazy to think that hey, maybe you can actually accomplish what you've dreamed of.]

Richard Branson

To me, business isn't about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It's about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials. - Richard Branson

This guy is one of my business heroes. After reading Like a Virgin, you understand his thoughts on business. He wants it to be something disruptive and something good. His path is exceptional (as in, he's a big exception to the norm), and I'm inspired to be so daring and craft my own path equally as exceptional. Branson's confidence has obviously helped him to do so, which I really need to work on myself.

Step 2: Next Week...

*Until then, I challenge you to think (even for 5 minutes) about who inspires you & why they do. This seemingly small step has already helped me to clarify my values in life - I bet it will help you do the same.