There are some people that I find inspiring. Search the internet there are hundreds of lists of people who have inspired by their deeds or attitudes. One such man is Vivian Thomas. I cannot remember how or exactly when I came across his story but I do remember being astounded by the travesty his life was and what it could have been had circumstances been better. Then I considered that while he couldn’t take the path he wanted he did the best that he could with what he had been given.
And what a best that was. Most people would consider their lives a complete success had they achieved what he did, and I am sure that he thought so to, as he should have with pride.
It’s more inspirational that it came as a result of being stopped from doing what he wanted to do.
He inspired generations within a small community and later, as his story became known, a wider audience, such as I.
Search those lists again and you will find hundreds of people from every walk of life across the world who, in some way, inspire people.
The downside to all this is that not all inspiration is good.
Think of any dictator and at some point they have inspired someone or a whole population to dreadful acts. The history of the world is replete with inspirational psychopaths.
Between those two poles is myriad variations and depths of inspiration and you don’t need to be a Thomas or Churchill to inspire.
When you look back at an event, even years later, you may not remember what someone said but you will always remember how they made you feel.
When a child shows you something they have drawn, it is generally rubbish, but do you tell them that? Of course not. If you are a parent you praise and congratulate them, not because you think they are going to be a great artist but, what if they were and you deride their attempts without thinking and that was the catalyst to them not being that person.
You may never know why they gave up drawing, but they will because you made them feel worthless.
As a police officer I have been thanked by people for helping them turn their lives around from crime or drugs or contemplating suicide. I usually remember them. Not exactly what I said to them but, apparently it often worked.
It is often the case that you are being inspirational even when you don’t realise it.
A kind word can go a long way but discouraging words go even further.
I always try to remember that.