Creating Inspiration, part 3: Ask people to choose

In this time of change, your ability to create inspiration becomes essential: to keep you moving forward, to attract people to your project, and to inspire you and them to do more.

There is no one ‘right’ way of achieving this but every inspiring vision is built from the same basic building blocks. The third of these blocks is to ask your audience to make a choice: are they with you or not?

At first sight it might seem to make sense to push everyone to say “Yes.” But the more you have to force people to support you, the more you will have to convince them over and over again in the future, every time an issue arises. (And in these times of constant change there will be many issues that arise…)

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

Then if they choose to go with you, you will know that you can count on their committed support no matter what happens.

And if they choose “No” then you have saved yourself from many 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 global 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 inspire people to decide for themselves whether 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 personal life, are you committed to the direction you are heading in? 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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(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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