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Being in the room

Inspiration is frequently the spark igniting and motivating us toward accomplishing many things. Likewise, inspiration comes in myriad forms. Among these are being in nature, architecture, and listening to inspiring accounts from people who’ve achieved tremendous accomplishments.

Lately, social media has been the source of countless motivational and inspirational, memes, gifs, and videos, with content being created by people from all walks of life. However, some appear to put the need of going viral far above the importance of being truly inspirational, and espousing values and philosophies which may contradict broader ideals of human kindness and compassion.

Inspirational sayings are by no means a modern concoction. Philosophers have existed for thousands of years and their words continue to be quoted. There have also been leaders and scholars whose ancient teachings still have validity in our modern-day world. Today, our current society seems to be inundated with numerous inspirational and motivational speakers.

As a writer, I feel a deep responsibility to make sure my articles inspire and evoke positive reactions from my readers. I work hard to express my thoughts clearly and state them in understandable ways. One slight mistake could tarnish a reputation I’ve worked years to establish.

It is perhaps for this reason, when coming across a new inspirational saying, my first reaction is to examine it and make sure there is no underlying message which supports an idea contrary to what I believe are basic human dignities. Occasionally, I’ll spot one which may have the intent to be inspirational but is vaguely cloaked in shame – warning you what may happen if you don’t proceed precisely how they have proclaimed.

It would be wise to use this approach yourself as you happen across inspirational sayings. Since we are all different and have diverse avenues of inspiration, not all of us will react the same way to similar advice. Some people need a good push to get started, while others would be offended by a strong-armed approach.

A different observance to a familiar saying

Let’s examine a very popular saying by a well-accomplished celebrity. The expression is: “Always be the hardest worker in the room” and is famously repeated by the actor Dwayne Johnson. When I first heard this expression, my inquisitive mind quickly began scrutinizing it. First, how do you know when you are the hardest working person in the room and secondly, is simply working hard the answer?

Thankfully, I did research the background of this quote and as it is stated above, it is a bit out of context. Johnson prefaced this quote by first stating, “I’m always asked what’s the secret to success? But there are no secrets. Be humble. Be hungry.” Then he finishes it with, “And always be the hardest worker in the room.”

The first part of this quote – and the one usually not included – demonstrates Johnson’s humility as well as his tireless resolve; it explains why he believes hard work is important. Whether you respect his ability or not, the entire quote is quite admirable and one which is hard to refute. It certainly validates why he has enjoyed a successful career.

Without taking anything away from Johnson’s incredible accomplishments, I wondered if there were a way to alter it which would make it more applicable to those of us who have no chance of following his footsteps. Without dismissing the idea of hard work, was there a more effective way of having it ring true more universally? Only one person in the room can work the hardest, and while that doesn’t imply everyone else sit idle, what might be a more attainable way of inspiring the others?

A room full of people implies teamwork, cooperation, and a common purpose. If the objective is to work the hardest worker, could this create a competitive climate, steering the group toward rivalry and strife? Rather than create a culture which could inspire conflict, why not instead inspire cooperation and collaboration?

Instead of being the hardest worker in the room, why not be “the most compassionate, the kindest, the most inspiring person in the room”? Aim to be the most understanding and helpful. This approach would attract others and build a team excited about everyone succeeding together.

To be fair, I can’t imagine Dwayne Johnson not being exactly this kind of person who would genuinely encourage and challenge the entire team to do its best. For him, talking about hard work is not a reflection of some selfish promotion, it’s a statement of his character.

Another of his quotes which provides an insight to his philosophy and one which I thoroughly enjoy is, ”Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.”

An equal playing field

The one thing all of us can do is strive to be the most compassionate person in the room. Being kind doesn’t dispel working hard, but it does deter arguments, prevent strife, and repel tension. Additionally, it doesn’t matter what gender, race, or possible limitation you may have, striving to be the most helpful fosters a spirit of togetherness and focuses on hidden abilities from others increasing their confidence and self-esteem. Although at times teams will require a leader, when everyone centers their efforts on the entire group, it develops an atmosphere for optimal results.

Inspirational quotes do have their place. Be mindful when you hear them and translate them into what will augment your personal growth and development. Allow them to motivate you to empower and inspire others to become the best version of themselves. Then, in whatever room you happen to be, everyone will be glad you were there.

My thanks to Noralí Nayla on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your comments.

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