Creating Inspiration, part 3: ask people to choose

In a time of change, your ability to create inspiration is essential: both to attract people to support your project and to excite them to do more.

There is no one ‘right’ way of doing this but every inspiring vision is formed from the same basic building blocks. And the third of these blocks is to ask your audience to make a choice: will they support you or not?

At first sight it might seem to make sense to push everyone to say “Yes.”

But the more that you steamroller people into supporting you now, the more effort you will have to put into convincing them again and again in the future, every time a new issue arises. And in these times of change there will be many issues…

Far better to share your vision with them in a way that inspires them, helps them to understand why it is their vision too, and then let them make up their own minds.

And if they decide “Yes” then you will know that you can count on their committed support, no matter what happens.

And if they choose “No” then you will have saved yourself from a lot of future distractions.

The CEOs of Unilever and Apple both understand this. In recent years they have both effectively said to shareholders:

“This is where we are going. If you don’t like it, sell your stock.”

They know that investors who are not committed to travelling the same path with them will be a drain on their energy and time. And in a time of massive change, that is energy and time they cannot afford to waste.

The same applies to your managers, employees, customers, and anybody else whose support you need: are they on the bus or off the bus? Will they lead, follow, or get out of the way?

The more you simply ask people to decide whether they are committed, and the more you inspire people to decide for themselves that they want to travel with you through this imperfect, churning world, the more you will build a team that actively works to find the opportunities in every problem instead of questioning and complaining every step of the way.

Asking people to make a choice, is another step to making you, and them, antifragile.

So let me ask you: In your work, and in your life, have you made an active decision to be on the bus or off the bus? What about the people around you? And what would happen if you changed that?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also have to practice.)

Photo By Quinn Dombrowski via

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