Use Aspiration as Your Inspiration.
I coach a ton of entrepreneurs. What they often have in common is that they work in a bubble, they have few peers and are driven to achieve their vision though hard work, grit and instinct. But once they have a team to lead, they falter.
In my experience, entrepreneurs seldom have a clear leadership model to follow and this makes leading others quite difficult. Why? Because a real example of how to lead is both practical as well as inspirational. And inspiration is a powerful thing.
Having an example to follow and to gain inspiration from is incredibly impactful in leadership. In an article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Why Inspiration Matters” the author, Scott Barry Kaufman, shares that inspiration facilitates progress towards goals. “People who were generally more inspired in their daily lives also tended to set inspired goals, which were then more likely to be successfully attained.”
Achieving goals is key to entrepreneurship and finding the an inspirational model is key. Even an aspirational model can provide the inspiration needed to achieve your goals. He writes that an “incredibly important, and often overlooked trigger of inspiration is exposure to inspiring managers, role models, and heroes.”
In coaching engagements I often ask my entrepreneurial clients to identify an aspirational role-model of positive leadership. It could be someone they know and have seen in action or it could be a public personality, someone whose career they have admired from a distance and who is a hero to them.
There are tons of models and heroes to follow and emulate. Public, well-respected leaders like Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Phil Jackson are all examples of positive and successful entrepreneurial leadership. These public figures each present their leadership model through interviews, videos and books and make it easy to learn and follow their good examples even though they are remote.
Your aspirational model could also be someone you admire and know but haven’t seen in action at work. A friend, a family member or a prominent community member could also serve to inspire your leadership style. I’ve had clients choose people they know as their aspirational model. The former coach for his ability to keep calm when things get hectic; the professor who has a bevy of kids seek her counsel; the friend from college who always takes a moment before responding to outrageous claims; these are real life models we can follow and gain inspiration from.
These examples serve to demonstrate an aspect of leadership that is useful in working with people. And having a concrete example makes it much easier to embody in ourselves: if you can see it you can do it.
The difference between aspiration and inspiration is small: aspiration is your hope to achieve something and inspiration is the call to action to make it come to life. Close or far away, there are so many examples you can pull from and use as a guide to leadership. We can all use aspirational models to turn our inspirations into reality.
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