The Power of Why – Inspiration & Motivation

May 13, 2021 | 0 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about motivation and inspiration. I saw the story of Chen Si in a recent post from Everyday Heroes on LinkedIn. Si spends every weekend at Nanjing Yangtze River bridge keeping people from jumping to their deaths. He has saved over 300 people from suicide. I asked myself what inspires such devoted action? He is changing the world for those he saves. 

What makes inspiration different from motivation? What are the reasons under the reasons?

Motivation pushes, to complete a task, to reach a goal, to fulfill a promise, to make money, to expand market share, to increase donations. 

Inspiration pulls like a magnet. You just have to do it! Even if it defies logic. It’s what defines who you are & what you believe. To eliminate racism, to save the planet, to change the nature of work, to eliminate a dreaded disease, or to end a war. 

When motivated… we work because we need a job, we work for money, we accomplish something good. It’s the push. The pull of Inspiration is a different energy. Our core values & beliefs are aligned with the work. This is what we were meant to do. We give our whole hearts to it, blood, sweat & tears.

“Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care?” 

 – Simon Sinek

In his TED Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, Simon Sinek says to begin with “Why”. He poses these questions. 

  1. Why does Apple outperform other tech companies? 
  2. Why did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. succeed in launching the Civil Rights Movement? 
  3. Why did Orville & Wilbur Wright achieve flight? 

They were not singularly positioned, better financed, or smarter. They did, however, have one thing in common, each was acting based on a belief, a cause, a purpose. They asked others, who believed the same, to join them.  

MLK said “I have a dream” not “I have a plan”. As a result, 250,000 people overcame enormous obstacles, even possible injury or death, to join him on the Washington Mall on August 28th, 1963 because they believed what he believed. Together they changed the course of history.


What if you and every member of your team were working in alignment with their own core values, their purpose & beliefs?  What if those shared values & beliefs aligned with the core values of the company or organization? You would be unstoppable! My mentor and teacher Martha Beck, in her new book, The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self, describes a process for knowing how to use the alignment to core values & beliefs with integrity when faced with challenging decisions or choices. 

To discover your core values, search within yourself to find your inner teacher. What verb & adverb combination describes a core value? 

  • “Uplift vigorously”?  
  • “Speak honestly”? 
  • “Create joyfully”? 
  • “Teach courageously”? 
  • One of mine is to “connect authentically”

Hold up each decision, line up each opportunity, solve every problem in the light of the core value. That’s the source of inspiration. When each individual and the team as a whole, align around a shared purpose & belief the results are magic. It may even change the world

Let’s have a conversation if you want to learn more about motivation and inspiration and how to bring more into your life and work.


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