How to Become an Inspiration to Yourself and Others

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years."

-- Abraham Lincoln

This sign hangs outside of my office as a friendly reminder to live each day as if it matters most, because we never know what the next day will bring. Today is not a dress rehearsal.

Ok, and I admit it -- I've always had a "thing" for Abe Lincoln. Being birthday twins is a touch of whimsy that I've always found some fun in (yup, I even got an "Abe Lincoln is my Homeboy" t-shirt one birthday and was pretty excited), but I digress...

The reality is, Abe and I also have the same values: purpose, honesty, and freedom above all things. As one story would have it, our former President was nicknamed "Honest Abe" because while working as a store clerk, if a customer over-paid, he would actually close down the shop and go return the change owed -- no matter how far he had to walk. And, as you know from history, it was Abe Lincoln who made it his mission to free the slaves by signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

So, while the birthday and the silly t-shirt may be fun, the reality is that Abe Lincoln is a huge inspiration to me as an entrepreneur. I seek to live life to the fullest and his quotes so often convey a message that I believe in. When you look at his famous quotes and peel back the onion to reveal the deeper meaning, you discover how to be a positive inspiration to yourself and others.

1) Your Best Purpose is a Life Well Lived:
"Most folks are as happy as they make up their mind to be."

-- Abraham Lincoln


What if you found out today that you only had one more day to live? Would you feel happy with the way that you have lived your life? Would you look back and be satisfied that each day you woke up excited, inspired and passionate?

If not, then it's time to tune in. To pay attention to that internal alarm telling you that you are destined for something more. To realize that it's up to you to find your own happiness -- there is no app or easy button for that. You have to do the work.

Finding your purpose isn't always easy. Most people don't bother. But, science has proven that living a life of passion and purpose is a key component of happiness.

2) Be Authentic
"Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

-- Abraham Lincoln


Do you consider yourself to be an honest person? Are you worried about what other people think of you? About what people would say if you decided that you wanted to pursue your dreams or take a chance on your own happiness? Or, do you worry about what they would say if you "failed?"

So, maybe you wear a "mask." You stay stuck and put on a facade by being the person who you think that everyone else knows you to be and wants you to be. You seek acceptance, but what you miss, is authenticity. And, your heart feels it - even if your head denies it.

Be the real thing. Be the true version of you that you desire to be -- take chances, no matter how far you have to walk in order to make the right change. People are always going to talk. They are always going to judge. Those who you think would support you, may show complete disregard. But ask yourself, all those people who you are so worried about accepting you, approving of you or judging you, are they living the life of their dreams? Did they ever even try?

3) Build a Life of Freedom
"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."

-- Abraham Lincoln


Do you know that most people spend 25% of their time each week at their job? That's factoring a 40 hour work week (c'mon, how many people only work 40 hours/ week?!) and not including a commute (ugh, traffic -- how long does that take?)

Sounds like a prison sentence.

And, most workers have to "wear a mask" around the office -- maybe you're different in front of your boss than you are in front of your coworkers and even more different in front of your clients. Keeping up with that charade gets tiring.

There's very little freedom. Oh, and someone else dictates how and when you get paid. Is that what you really want? Or, do you crave a life of freedom and adventure? Opportunities to travel, and to play more than you work?

Figure out what you want. Take off the mask. Believe that freedom is possible for you. Create a mindset that is designed for success, and a roadmap of your next steps. You will get there.

When your determination makes you the great success that you are destined to be, then maybe those naysayers will put the ego aside and ask you how you did. Then you can share with them the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln -- and become an inspiration to others.

Thoughts? How do you stay inspired? How do you inspire others?