Even though I was a young girl when I first heard his speech, I remember the impact it had on me. My eyes stayed open. I didn’t blink. I got the chills. I knew I was hearing something very powerful. I remember looking forward to being an adult and being able to fully grasp what I had just heard.
Today, when I look at the essence of his words, I see why his speech was of such significant influence.
He focused on what he wanted, not what he didn’t want.
What we feel and what we experience depend on what we are focused on in each moment. The direction we take and the decisions we make also depend on what we are focused on in each moment. When we are focused on what we want, on what matters, on what has meaning and purpose, we become inspired.
When we are focused on what we don’t want, what we did wrong, what is irritating, angering, frustrating, sad, or what holds us back, what we don’t have, can’t do, what isn’t fair, or is overwhelming, we are not inspired.
It is when we are inspired that we achieve significant results.
He inspired others vs. motivated.
We often think that when we’re leading or selling, we have to persuade, convince, and motivate to achieve results. Motivation does not work–not in the long run. And neither does persuading or convincing. That’s the reason we find ourselves continually needing to persuade, convince and motivate ourselves and others. We are actually in a state of force; and in the long run, there is no power in force. Often, it brings about an equal and opposite reaction.
Inspiration, on the other hand, is power. Inspiration, which means to be infused with spirit, ignites a power within. When we are inspired, there is no stopping us, and remarkable things start to happen. When we are inspired, we are in touch with our highest awareness and creativity. We get all kinds of ideas on how to create and expand what we have envisioned.
Vision, purpose, hope, thankfulness, wonder and possibility all bring about inspiration.
He shared his dream.
When I work with CEOs, I ask them to tell me what their dream is for their organization. Nine times out of ten, they don’t have one. They wax on and on about providing value to their customers, being an employer of choice, and maximizing returns for their investors. When they finish, I tell them I am not inspired. Because I am not inspired. They weren’t inspired, and so they weren’t inspiring.
Their first assignment, then, is to write their “I have a dream” speech. Sometimes it’s hard to get started. Once they start, they can’t stop. They write their dream for their organization, their employees, their customers, their suppliers, their investors. They see and feel the difference they are making, and they become inspired—mightily. When they share that vision with their teams, their customers, suppliers and investors, they too become inspired. And they write their dream speech for their part in that vision. Remarkable things start to happen. They can’t wait to write the dream speech for their life.
I invite you to listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech again. And then write your “I Have a Dream” speech for your life and your work. See what happens.