I have travelled on but a few of the great and sometimes famous rivers of our world – the Zambezi (near the Victoria Falls) and the Orange Rivers in Africa, the Colorado and Mississippi in the USA and the Thames in the UK. I still need to get to the Amazon, Nile, Volga, Danube, Yangtze and many others, 76 in the world of which are over 1 600 kilometres long. Although all of the rivers have their own individual characters, one can’t help being awed by the energy and purposeful movement that one senses beneath the vessel in which one is sailing. A river touches places of which its source knows nothing. Triumphantly persistent, a river overcomes all barriers – for a while, it meanders steadily on its course, but then is suddenly confronted with an obstacle. Maybe baulked for a while, undaunted, it soon makes its passage either around or over the obstacle. Sometimes the river will drop out of sight for a great distance, only to reappear again broader and grander than before. The river is the life blood of many cultures, providing sources of food, drinking water and also fertilizing crops. The river is a fountain of blessing.
For many people, work is survival, a painful experience, a “have-to-do” rather than a potential contribution to be made. As such, colleagues experience people (and sometimes even leaders) with this attitude negatively, not gaining much from them in their day to day interactions. If one views one’s contribution differently, however, one’s potential inspiration and encouragement on others can realise huge impact. Like the river which gains momentum over distance and time from its small beginnings at its source, what “sources” are available to provide the necessary creative energy to become an inspiration to others? Some of my own personal sources of energy (and subsequent inspiration) are the following:
- Voracious reading – there are volumes of leadership, self-help, spiritual and inspirational books readily available online or plenty of hard copies in bookstores to kick-start one’s creativity and to facilitate self-reflection and growth. Read, too, outside your areas of interest.
- Intentional networking – building inter-disciplinary relationships provides one with a wealth of experience upon which to draw. Not only will solutions and ideas pop up more frequently, but new doors could potentially open for you.
- Submitting to a mentor – somehow, accountability to a mentor always stimulates growth. Choose wisely – someone you trust, perhaps with more experience than you have and who will confront issues with transparency and firmness.
- Purposeful travel – quite apart from the common holiday destinations, select a travel location within your country or abroad to expose yourself to different cultural experiences. Demonstrating a willingness to learn will open doors to new experiences.
- Cross-industry tours – visiting a neighbouring production facility or distribution centre and having a plant tour gives insight into how other industries tackle problems, deal with waste and enhance productivity.
- Exercise – this is not only good for the maintenance and health of your cardio-vascular system, but also releases endorphins and increases oxygen to the brain – all good for your well-being.
- Volunteer work – this contribution outlet not only gives you opportunity to use your giftedness, but also gets you mingling with a new group of people.
People need hope – becoming a fountain of inspiration to others requires focus on the various sources that are available to keep your internal river of creativity flowing. As you share your insights and experiences with others, people feel encouraged and they are in turn stimulated to offer their respective contributions. Your river of creativity may touch places and inspire people in ways that leave permanent impact.