Where do you find your inspiration?

I walked into a laboratory and was surprised by emotion.  This was not a scientific lab.  It was a counseling lab with couches, chairs, and obscure video cameras. I was asked to lecture on my book “Bringing Respect Back: Communicating Without the Conflict” to grad students in an internship program at Governors State University.  GSU’s counseling program is one of the finest in the Midwest, if not the country. What caught me by surprise is that I had taught these same students two years ago in a course called Advanced Family Systems. During the semester I shared with them I was writing book.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become required reading for the Internship Program. When I walked into the lab and saw these same students now at the end of their programs, I was taken aback.  I had a lump in my throat.  They were holding my book in their hands smiling.  It was a bit surreal. When I returned to school as a student in my forties, I had no idea what would come of my career.  I simply wanted a degree so I could be licensed to do counseling.  Publishing clinical literature, serving on the faculty of the grad school, owning a private practice, and writing books was not on my radar. How did this happen?  I could write several blogs, perhaps an entire book to explain it.  However, if you asked me to boil it down to one word, I would say inspiration.  My inspiration comes from several sources.  After I relate mine, I am going to ask you to share yours in the comment section below. Here are 7 sources of inspiration for me.

Ordinary People who model greatness

Individuals living intentionally inspire me. I have been fortunate to know ordinary people who do extraordinary things.  They inspire me.  I will not attempt to name them here.  They know.  I already told them. Among my favorites is my youngest brother Tom. Born with a developmental disability he cannot live independently. At age 52 he is my mother’s sidekick!  Inspite of his limitations, Tom has been an inspiration to many.  His innocence, perseverance, and genuine love for people continue to challenge me.

People who speak into my life

I am fortunate to have concentric circles of personal and professional relationships that are truly rich.  These individuals speak into my life on a regular basis.  Colleagues. Friends. Students. Clients. Family. My wife was the first person who encouraged me to write, followed by professors and others along the way.  One of the greatest sources of inspiration came from a fellow business owner who thought my plan to write a book was not a good idea.  After sinking in self-doubt for about a minute, I was determined to prove him wrong.  Inspiration morphed into motivation, followed by action, and the pages flowed. I am indebted also to spiritual mentors and a counselor who I have met with regularly for over 20 years.  Today, I belong to a band-of-brothers, guys in a business owners group who do life together.  We go deep. I have been challenged to grow in ways I never imagined.

Pain I have experienced

One of the greatest sources of inspiration emerge from the painful experiences I have endured.  I refrain from sharing them out of respect of the privacy of family. Suffice it to say I would not be doing what I am now at this level had it not been from what I learned during the darkest periods of my life.

My spiritual journey

I grew up believing in God.  We attended church with my mom.  Dad had his reasons for not going.  Looking back they made sense to me.  However, he taught us spiritual hymns playing his ukulele on Saturday nights. When I was 20 years old my faith became deeply personal when I decided to become a Christ-follower.  Here I discovered a purpose for living.  My journey with him continues 30+ years. When I am “in the zone” helping people, I feel his pleasure.  It’s special.

Quiet places

The picture above was taken by my wife at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.  I chose it because many times I find inspiration sitting in quiet places in nature or while hiking trails.  Quiet places center me.  I allow my senses to absorb the surroundings. Inevitably an inspiration follows.

In little things that happen every day

Ask my coaching or counseling clients and they will tell you there are times in session when an idea pops in my brain for a blog or therapeutic model. On Monday I was inspired to persevere under pressure by my seven-year-old granddaughter Gianna. She likes to test the durability of the word “no”. I was amazed at how many angles she used to persuade me to give in.  I told Gianna she will make a great attorney or salesperson!  I was even more impressed with her positive attitude and heart of gratitude for the things that did come her way that day.  Gianna is a special little girl.

Movies, art, Music, Sports

Do you get inspired by the Arts?  I do.  Movies do it the most.  Among the movies that inspire me to live fully: Shawshank Redemption, October Sky, Dead Poets Society, Mona Lisa Smile, and Meet Joe Black. I could go on and on about music, art, and sports but I think you get my point.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Now you’ve read my sources of inspiration.  Where do you get yours?  I am curious to know.  Can you take one minute of your time to share one source of inspiration?  Just click the comment box below. Did you find this blog boosted your inspiration?  Did it give you some things to think about?  Add your comments below also.  Why not share the article on your FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media outlet.  Thanks!