Published in July, 2016 Invenio magazine

A few months ago I was browsing through Facebook and came across my old high school song.  Within minutes I had found the music on the internet, downloaded it, and was taken back to those heady days when as young teenagers we believed we owned the world!

As someone who used to fly from Malawi to South Africa, landing in Johannesburg and then getting the overnight train to Pietersburg (now Polokwane) in the early days it was sometimes a little daunting.

Our school was, as all schools around us were, focused on being the best!  Best academically!  Best on the sports field!  Best in the swimming pool! And we were all encouraged to get involved.

When I look at the words of our school song I realise how much not only did singing this song as often as we did, but also our headmaster and teachers, were our inspiration.

‘…He wins who dares, … ‘

This is so true.  As coaches and mentors we encourage our clients to dare!  We take them step by step through the coaching or mentoring process, from where they are today to where they want to be.  We help them ‘dare’.  We help them face each challenge.  We help them succeed. 

‘… Boldness be our friend,           
Make our spirit strong. …’

Wow!  Isn’t that exactly what our clients expect help with – being bold!  In my last article I talked about change and change is not easy.  Having a strong spirit, and learning to be bold helps our clients take each step.

‘… From the rift of dawn,             
To the day is done.         
From the starter’s gun  
Till the race is won. …

As a school that excelled in sports we were all encouraged to participate.  We started with the skills we had, and gradually we improved.  I remember that starter’s gun in my third year of high school – 10-mile cross country run!  Through the previous two years we had trained to run cross country – not fast, not sprinting, but steady and consistently!  Yes, we won that year!  As a team it wasn’t about each one of us individually, but it was about the whole team.  We crossed the finish line with the flag waving!  It had taken us just over two years of continual training, starting with where each one of us was in our ability, to being part of the winning team!  One step at a time.

‘… But did you dare        
O did you dare? …’

I don’t think we ever thought that we would not dare.  It’s interesting when you look back at where your inspiration came from.  Within weeks of turning 11 years old I was on a plane to start at a new school in a country I had only been to for holidays.  My parent flew down with me, organised my school uniforms, and left them there.  OK sounds harsh I know, but that’s boarding school! 

Would I have done and achieved what I have done and achieved if it had not been for this school, my parents, and my friends?  Probably not!

Inspiration is simply an influence directly exerted upon the mind.  The influence can come from anywhere and from anyone.  I know that I go to Facebook to look at the pictorial quotes that my friends and colleagues share.  It’s incredible how many of them leave me with ‘I could use that in an article’ or ‘wow! that just helps me with a challenge today!’  It may not be related to what I’m doing or what I’m thinking, but it may just be that one thing that helps me over the hurdle and onto the next step, or it may be that one thing that gives me a new idea.

People are often hugely inspirational and we should all look for them.  The outpouring on Facebook when our headmaster passed way made me realise how much of an influence he had been on everyone’s life and not just mine.  Through his own experiences he had made the decision that he wanted every child who went through our school to grow and develop and really take advantage of all the opportunities open to them.  I know a large number of us did, thank you to social media connecting us all again.  I have a few roll-models that I follow – I gain huge inspiration from them; not only for their achievements but also for their quotes and inspirational ideas.

One of my inspirations is Richard Branson and in a recent blog he talked about people who recognise that making a decision is not about binary success or failure but about conducting an experiment.  He goes on to say that failure isn’t actually failure but it’s a result that helps you make a better decision for the next ‘experiment’. 

Another of my inspirations is my parents and I think back to what they did when travelling wasn’t something that everyone could do, yet my father who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland and my mother in Bloemfontein, South Africa; met and married in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia in the early 1950’s.  For them travelling and challenges were inspirational; and they have encouraged my brother and I to follow our hearts.

Being inspired is something that happens to everyone, every day; but using that inspiration is something that comes from within.  My question to you is ‘did you dare’ follow your own inspiration?

© 2016 Barbara J. Cormack.  All Rights Reserved.