All About You Podcasts

All About You: Keep your inspiration burning

All About You by Richard Hawk

EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

The Latin word "inspirare" means to breathe or blow into, excite, or inflame – or in a literal sense, to blow air over a flame to make it grow. It’s the root for the English word “inspire.” This flame analogy aptly describes what happens when we become inspired.

Like you, I’ve been inspired many times throughout my life. One reason we get inspired so often is because it’s easy. What’s much more difficult is keeping the flame going, especially when dampening events occur.

Let’s say, for example, you’re inspired to attain professional certification because you read an article about how it will give you more credibility as a safety and health professional and make you more desirable in the job market. Quickly, the flame grows, and you start researching what you need to do. Things are moving along smoothly until some personal event – perhaps the arrival of a baby – diverts your plans. Certainly, a baby takes precedence, but that doesn’t mean it has to extinguish the flames of your certification inspiration.

What can you do to keep your inspiration flame lit? Here are a few ideas.

Create a reminder. Each week when I review my to-do list, I see “Pursue Your Hit Song Music Dream.” Although I may go weeks without doing much about it, there are times when seeing those words stirs me to action, moving me closer to the dream. Often it’ll also prompt me to include a task in my to-do list. You can do this with any dream. Want to write a best-selling book? Write down that goal in a place where you’ll see it regularly. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m going to post my music dream on my office bulletin board so that I see it every day!

When you first become inspired, write down why you’re psyched up about the thing you want to accomplish. Then, when your fire is dimming, you can go back and read your initial feelings to reignite your ambition. It also helps to clarify the reason you first got inspired.

Read inspiring stories. My favorite true story that keeps me believing I can still achieve wonderful things – even at age 60 – is about Grandma Moses, who didn't start painting until she was 78. Although she started late in life, her paintings are priceless. (See All About You: Age is just a number, Safety+Health, June 2016.)

Although you’re unique, whatever challenges you face when reaching for a dream have been overcome by others at all ages. Reading about or talking to someone who has overcome similar hurdles can be quite inspiring. And remember that everyone who has achieved stellar success has had to overcome hardships and failures. Check out the life stories of Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Walt Disney and Michael Jordan, and you’ll see that they had to overcome many hardships and setbacks to keep their flames alive.

Reading about people who have accomplished what you seek can help you in practical ways, too. I regularly study great speakers to improve my craft. Do you want to change your safety culture? Then read about Paul O’Neill and his groundbreaking safety message and work as a CEO. Also, joining an online community of people seeking the same goals you have can be helpful. (I belong to songwriter and striving-musician groups).

Don’t give up, because you’ll have to start again. Starting over can be the toughest challenge to staying inspired. Right now, I’m doing well with my fitness, but I’ve had to “start again” so many times to get back in shape that I think I’ve become an expert at it. Although I’ve told myself numerous times that I wasn’t going to let my fitness falter, it still happened. One thing that has helped me not quit is the thought that “failure doesn’t come from falling but from not getting back up.” So, if your inspiration dims, get back up and fan your flame until it becomes a bonfire!

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit


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