Inspiring Others

“Have you ever been stopped in your tracks? By a stranger who affected you profoundly?” ~ Eric Tonningsen

Months ago, I briefly mentioned a woman named Rose. I committed to writing about her in a later post. Now I am. Rose served as the inspiration for a story I shared over a three-month series of progressive speech contests. This video was the last time I told the story in May.

If you watch the video, you’ll better understand where this post is going. And yes, it has to do with how we inspire… and how people like you, inspire me.

Fifteen months ago I launched this blogging journey. Truthfully, I get more out of reading and viewing your posts, than I do crafting and sharing mine. I’ve (virtually) met an amazing, creative cadre; people who take time to share what’s on their minds, in their hearts, seen through their lenses,Β and created on their unique easels. Β To each of you, for enriching my life, a respectful hat tip.

We don’t all follow one another’s blogs. Ergo, I want to acknowledge four bloggers whose work has inspired me and in doing so, invite you to visit their site. You may find yourself comparably inspired. Yes, there are countless more than these four people who move, motivate, and inspire me to think, act, laugh, and cry. I appreciate how each of you chooses to contribute to our community.

In my predictable format, here are three ways in which to consider inspiring others, if so inclined:

  1. Untether people. Don’t simply give people your advice. Give them the freedom to figure it out themselves. No one likes a micro-manager or a know-it-all. If you’re asked for help, share a rough outline to help the person move in the right direction, but leave something to their imagination so they’ll have the freedom to fill in the blanks. Self-discovery will show them that they’re fully capable and more powerful that they ever thought possible.
  2. Empathize with people’s judgments and how you’d like to see their life differently. You can often find presence in the feelings and needs that lie behind their world view. Maybe they aren’t changing, but you can create space in which to transform your own judgments and expectations. You have the capacity to shift opinions of others and relationships by simply focusing on yourself.
  3. Acknowledge contributions of others. You’re just one person yet you’ve contributed to your own life successes. What about others who have added meaning and value to your life? It’s not always your idea. πŸ™‚ Acknowledge other’s contributions publicly, if possible, to show people you’re humble and appreciative enough to give them credit for how they’ve affected you.

85 thoughts on “Inspiring Others

  1. I wrote something similar to this! Brilliant job! Feel free to read mine. I’d love to hear your feedback:) great minds think alike!

  2. I really like the acknowledgement of others. This tends to get swept aside a lot of times. Great post. I shall check out the other bloggers as well.

  3. Wonderful post Eric! Seems like Rose and you had an I and Thou connection. I follow one of your listed bloggers and I will check out the other three. Your suggestions are great, especially the untethering of others. I thought of Pharrell with your final suggestion. During all of his recent interviews he deliberately and passionately mentioned all those who helped him along his path. Check it out, you might get inspired πŸ™‚


    • Thanks for your Pharrell suggestion, Linda. I’ll try to create time to check it out.

      The brief connection shared between Rose and I was equal parts unanticipated and unusually thought provoking. In retrospect I consider it more an interaction or exchange — there just wasn’t enough time for it to qualify as a substantive connection. It was such a chance encounter.

    • Thanks, Joe. The speech was awarded second place. I was happy as it was one of the best I had delivered. πŸ™‚ By the way, you are part of this group of bloggers! We appreciate your contributing, too.

      • I read this again and watched your video just now…so nice to see/hear a live you πŸ™‚ Your Rose story is awesome. Yes, you CAN focus on what matters…I truly believe that. Thanks for continuing to inspire…some of the most compassionate and inspiring people I’ve met in the last year are out here in the blogging community. Will check out those bloggers you highlighted.

      • Thanks for re-reading, watching the video and sharing your thoughtful feedback, Aveline. I believe many people want to align with what really matters, it’s often the “focusing” part that takes time and intentional effort. We’re all inspiring others in our own uniquely gifted ways. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the extraordinary people in our blogging community. πŸ™‚

  4. Great tips, Eric. Nothing we have is really ours, but has been given to us. Yet, we so quickly forget that. And I’m with you–the greatest part of blogging is getting to know and learn from so many great people out there!

  5. Your three tips are great ways to build what really matters in your life. I can’t think of an area of what matters most in my life that won’t benefit from them.

    Your video was a great inspiration to start the day with. Interesting….I know of another story told to me by a WW II veteran and how he, as a shy young man boarded a train to cross the country to begin 2 years of training that would take him in to the mountains of Italy to defend a world. He met a young woman named Rose. And she changed his life. He has no idea how that one time he had the courage to go speak to her and spent his cross country trek getting to know her. He married her. And they spent decades together until he had to tell her goodbye. Another Rose and her young man learning about what really matters.

    And thank you Eric, for the wonderful shout out. πŸ™‚

  6. I think your advice could be under the title “how to be a good leader,” or “how to be a good boss,” too. Very well said, and a good reminder. I’ve really enjoyed keeping up with your blog – it’s been motivating to me as I’ve started new ventures in my own life. Thanks.

  7. Well done. I enjoyed seeing you “at work” in the video. You’re a good storyteller and you captivated your audience immediately. Remarkable that you didn’t stumble over a single word, either. Even for an experienced public speaker, that was a terrific presentation. Maybe I’ll call you One-Take Tonningsen from now on!


    The message was great, too, but I figured others are going to comment on that, so I’ll address the technical aspects.

    • Thank you, Eric. While humbled by “One-Take Tonningsen,” this was a speech that had been delivered (and refined) over three months. Though you kindly chose to focus on its technical aspects, there was a flaw — that only you and others keen on syntax, grammar, etc. would detect. What was intended was “In her wisdom’s simplicity…” What came out of my mouth was “In the simplicity of her wisdom…” Just enough of an error to throw my delivery mentally. πŸ™‚ I appreciate your kind words about the presentation.

  8. Hey, great job Eric! Thanks for sharing the video…and I love that there is a mention of the Southwest Chief in there! I’ve enjoyed two cross-country rides on that train. As always, I enjoyed your post and encouragement/wisdom. Have a good day!

  9. Very well written – in fact I had always belived that I could learn a lot more using my ears than using my mouth – it’s the reason why I have such huge ears… πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Out there in front of our noses – so much inspiration waiting, we only have to use our ears and eyes… πŸ™‚

    • Big ears are important! To your comment, how else could we become highly effective listeners without being physically enabled? Agreed, too, what’s ‘out there’ is so much easier to ingest/absorb than people believe.

      There is much inspiration inside each of us; just waiting to share with others. πŸ™‚ Thanks for adding to this inspiring conversation.

  10. Love the speech, Eric. You didn’t just stand there. You moved around and gestured. A thunderous applause from me as well.
    I really love what you pointed out on #1. You can advise, advise, and advise. It helps in leading a certain vision, but in the end, it’s always that person’s judgment, perspective, or gut feeling that will be the big factor. As a person who’s giving the advice, you should make an effort to understand the other person. You can draw a path for that person. But also know and respect that the person you’re giving advice to may still have a different point of view after the advice you’ve given..

    • Thoughtful and well stated, Rommel. To key on the word “respect,” I believe another approach we could consider is offering no advice at all — even if a friend, colleague or client begs for it. “In the end” each of us has a unique combination of skills, talents, personal wisdom, and intuition to find the answers within ourselves. Perhaps once found, others could then commend and validate the person’s decision/choice/action. Just putting another consideration out there. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Brad. I’m learning the art of storytelling and have some very helpful mentors and colleagues sharing pointers and feedback. So glad that you checked out Dave Cenker’s blog. He’s a wonderful storyteller!

  11. Hi Eric,

    Wow!! what a wonderful speaker you are! and a captivating actor too! The modulation of your voice when you speak as Rose makes you a winner! It is interesting that a stranger could say so much to you…very inspiring indeed! if it is an imaginative story, then you get a double thumbs up for being a fantastic fantasy writer! The questions which Rose asks seem to come from you…did you dream about her?

    Yes, it is nothing to do with materialistic success, alignment with life and values is more significant.
    Thanks for sharing those three tips, I think I try to follow them.
    Dave is one of my favourite writers, I will check the other three suggested by you.

    • Unsolicited, Rose imparted much wisdom over a long, leisurely dinner. I was simply in what I often call “sponge” mode. Some of us are attuned to precious moments with sage elders. recognizing in that moment how grounded the wisdom that is being shared is.

      Rose was (and still is a real person). The train ride from Albuquerque east was real. Dinner was real, as was lunch with Rose. And the essence of the speech’s message was from Rose. I did embellish with some of the questions she asked, as I needed to add a bit more dramatic flair for a contest speech. “Align your life with what really matters” was Rose. And yes, it’s also the subtitle for this blog.

      Glad you are open to checking out those I suggested, Balroop. We have so many gifted bloggers in this community!

    • I some times wonder if the “format” gets a little tiring. I like it too, Kim, and thanks for your kind acknowledgment. My sense is that few of us, consciously, want to or try to tie people down/hold them back. It’s simply what we inadvertently do in lieu of consciously supporting and encouraging others, especially when they are doubting themselves — and we know they can!!

      • The format does not get tiring at all. I think you provide a wonderful way of bridging the esoteric ideas with “real world” realism of “okay, here is how you apply it”.

  12. Eric, this is a post that I’ll have to re-read. I love that! It’s simply one of those reads where I can keep returning and receive more and more. I don’t often write with bullet points myself, but I sure can appreciate them in the right context. I recently met you in the blogging world, and I am glad that I did. Synchronicity is amazing because I was thinking about Toastmasters and the speeches my husband rehearses for Toastmasters as I clicked ‘Play.’ Also, I have (not been blogging about–but) been immersing myself in the symbolism of the Rose the last two days. Did this Rose really ask you what your “key value is?!” Love it!

    “You are kind to listen, let’s call it a night,” “Heed your heart.” I like what you did here, and I will share your speech with my husband if time permits. 1, 2 & 3 are key points that add value for all of us. Reminders always help. Best, Ka

    • Thanks for your lovely words, Ka. I, too, have posts that I periodically go back and re-read. It’s wonderful how different people and writing styles speak, uniquely, to us. And yes, synchronicity is amazing. πŸ™‚

      Rose did not ask what my key value (was). Sorry to potentially disappoint. As I shared with Balroop in an above reply, much of the story was/is true. Given that it was a contest speech, I did fabricate a few aspects. My favorite though, which was vintage Rose, is “I need a martini!”

      And I agree, reminders do help. πŸ™‚

  13. What a fabulously inspiring post! (Oh, and before I forget, thank you so much for the follow!) I read your About.Me page and you are like my twin! I will be updating my page to show more of who I am thanks to reading yours…. πŸ˜€

    • Thanks for stopping by, Dale, and for you kind comment! I actually revised the profile early in my blogging days when another blogger said it sounded to business/professional-like. That’s what spending 25 years in the corporate world yields. Thankfully, this community has inspired me to write more from the heart and in ways that reach people. Will check in on your about page in a few days to read about the new you. πŸ™‚

  14. Eric, another inspiring post…thank you. The significance of every post you write is something I think we all admire about you, moving the bar higher & higher. Inspiring others…not sure if there is a better gift: to others and also to yourself.

    As I have mentioned to you before, the greatest draw I have with your site ~ inspiration and guidance. It is talent you have and you openly share…and it was evident in your video. The goal I had when I first started blogging was creating mutual inspiration, allowing us all to grow together. Great post…thanks Eric!

  15. I choose to raise the bar higher & higher, in part, because you and others continue to inspire me. Think of it, perhaps, as an appreciated compelling.

    Thank you for your gracious comment, Randall. It is a privilege to be part of this mutually inspiring community.

  16. Eric, thank you for checking out and following my blog. πŸ™‚ I am intrigued by yours and by your life’s work as a coach. I work in HR and often talk with boomers preparing to retire; although about to receive the gift of time, many people are overwhelmed by it. Your work surely fills a great need. I look forward to your posts.

    • Welcome, Jennifer. Thank you for returning the ‘blog follow’ favor. πŸ™‚ I have been working with the “chronologically gifted” (aka, boomers) for close to nine years. I ‘get’ and appreciate the work that you are doing to help them prepare for life’s Third Act. Equally, I am looking forward to your posts

  17. A hat tip to you as well Eric! I feel untethered in our correspondence. You slip a comment here and there that makes me consider looking at things from a little different angle. I really like your quote, “You have the capacity to shift opinions of others and relationships by simply focusing on yourself.”

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  19. wonderful speech about meeting Rose so well told with body gestures to keep a person engaged and interested. also, your three ideas inspired me…my favorite being #3 – acknowledging those who add meaning and value to our lives….especially the difficult ones that come along. thanks!

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