Inspiring Others – I

Jerry was a truck driver.  He owned his own truck and carried food products from the Midwest states to cities on both coasts.  As an independent driver, he could set his own delivery schedule.  Throughout his travels, he would often be dismayed at the forgotten places in America that had not prospered.  Many of these communities were “food deserts.”  There was no retail grocery store for miles.  The only source of food was a local food bank.

Jerry wanted to help.  He worked with his client food companies to see if they would donate food for the communities he saw on his travels.  It didn’t take long to fill up his truck with food.  Then he took two weeks of vacation to make food deliveries to food banks.  He decided to stay a few days in each community to get to know the people who came to the food bank.  Their stories were heart breaking, and Jerry was overwhelmed with their gratitude for the food he brought.

On his way home, Jerry stopped at a truck stop.  He met up with fellow food haulers and shared his story.  The next thing he knew, other truckers decided to join him.  It didn’t take long for truck drivers across America to join with Jerry in providing food for those in need.

Jerry was an inspiration to others.  But he had no platform or organization behind him.  It was just an idea.  Inspiring others does not take a position of authority or a “pulpit” to speak from.  Those who are successful at inspiring others do so out of the genuineness of their character.

Jerry’s idea spread throughout the trucking community by word of mouth.  Many of those who were inspired by Jerry’s actions never actually met him.  It was the caring nature of what Jerry did that inspired them.

You don’t have to be charismatic to inspire others.  What Jerry did was simply tell the stories of those he helped.  And those who followed Jerry soon had their own stories to tell.  All of us can tell stories that help others understand what we are trying to do.

Inspiring others isn’t something that is done in front of a mass audience.  We inspire when we convey our message by our acts and our concerns for others.  Mass audiences are effective in stoking fears and arousing passions, but the only way to reach a person’s heart is by a personal connection to them.

Think of your own personal situation.  Have you been inspired by another?  What did you learn from this experience that you can use in inspiring others?  Do you have your own stories you can use to inspire others?  Do you doubt your own abilities to inspire others?  If so, why?  All of us can be inspirational.  We just need something we believe in.

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“It’s precisely the people who are considered the least likely leaders who end up inspiring others the most.  Everyday people and everyday acts of courage eventually change everything.”
– Ai-jen Poo (Labor activist and co-director of Caring Across Generations)

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