For 20 years, Jen Grace Baron has sought to discover the secrets of sustaining inspiration. Her findings are the subject of a book which she co-authored with Allison Holzer and Sandra Spataro, entitled Dare To Inspire: Sustain the Fire of Inspiration In Work and Life. She chats with Barry O’Reilly about this interesting topic in this week’s show. Listen to Creating Sustainable Inspiration with Jen Grace Baron.

What Makes It Worthwhile?

In entrepreneurship, as in life, there are going to be tough days. Jen says that she and her co-authors asked each other, “What is the difference that we want to make that will make bad days worthwhile?” [Listen from 1:05]



Inspiration Is a Muscle and a Resource

Jen’s research proved that the traditional view of inspiration is erroneous. Inspiration isn’t something that happens to you. In fact, it can be generated: inspiration is a muscle that you can build and it’s a resource that organizations should manage. She outlines three ways we get inspired:

  • We inspire ourselves;
  • We are inspired through, with and by others, mainly in relationships;
  • We’re inspired through situations.

Jen adds that there are predictable pathways, or engines, that people use to inspire themselves. [Listen from 2:00]

Rituals and Culture

Barry and Jen talk about how simple ‘reset rituals’ spark inspiration and prepare us for success. Systematized rituals are essentially the building blocks of great culture. Culture, Jen says, is the hardest thing you’ll ever build in your company, but it’s the most precious. Barry adds that exceptional leaders role model the behaviors they want their people to adopt. Sustained change does depend on leaders, Jen agrees, which often means unlearning past beliefs and behaviors. The desire for the change has to be stronger than the fear of changing, she says. [Listen from 6:05]

Am I Inspiring?

Many leaders believe that they are not inspiring, or that being inspiring is the same as being charismatic. Jen describes the strategies and tools she uses to help her clients see their strengths and uniqueness. Barry comments that our capabilities are often our blind spots because they come so naturally to us. However, we inspire others just by being ourselves. Inspiration is about being authentic; it’s about knowing our strengths and how to use them, Jen adds. Situational leadership is also an essential element of inspiration as leaders today must be agile. [Listen from 15:40]

Some Engines of Inspiration

We’re inspired by people who share their fallibility and vulnerability with us. Jen comments that just needing other people, and expressing that, is magnetic and inspiring. She shares an important unlearning story from her own life. It was humbling, difficult and uncomfortable, she says, but it taught her how to be a better leader. Another engine of inspiration is overcoming adversity. Past constraints have motivated and inspired many people to succeed. Jen explains that a surprising engine of inspiration is failure, loss and grief. She shares the story of Dr. Joe Kasper to illustrate that grief can be a deep source of inspiration and can be channeled for good. [Listen from 20:05]

Finding Your Inspiration

If you can reflect on traumatic events, failure, loss or grief, Jen says, and find ways they can serve you, you will grow stronger. This is called Post-Traumatic Growth. Barry asks the best way someone can figure out what will inspire them. Jen responds that inspiration helps you have your best days more often. As such, write down what your best day looks like for you, and why. [Listen from 29:15]

What’s Next For Jen

Jen wants to work with companies to measure inspiration and build inspiring partnerships to increase it. [Listen from 33:05]

Don’t want to miss a post? Sign up to my podcast newsletter and monthly newsletter!