Creating Inspiration, part 3: ask people to choose

Yes and No labels

In a time of change, your ability to create inspiration is essential, both for attracting people to your project and for motivating them to deliver results.

There is no single ‘right’ way of doing this but every inspiring vision is formed from the same basic elements.

The third of these elements is to ask your audience to make a choice: will they support you?

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

But the more you steamroller people into supporting you now, the more effort you will have to put into convincing them 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, get them to understand why it is their vision too, and then let them make up their own minds.

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 a lot of trouble.

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 ask people to decide whether they are committed, and the more you will need to inspire people to want to travel with you through this imperfect, churning world, the more your team will actively work 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.

In your work, have you made an active choice to be on the bus, off the bus, or neither? What about the people around you? 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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Photo By Quinn Dombrowski via StockPholio.net

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