Inspiration or Legislation

I’ve found in business as in life that there are two options for projecting a refining influence into the world around you: inspiration and legislation. The first, my favorite, requires the most out of you and those within your sphere of influence, but also yields the most sustainable result. The second is typically employed more often than the first (it is the easy way out), but it has the negative effect of dumbing down those subject to its constraints.

In my experience people generally sort themselves out into three camps vis-a-vis the process of refinement. There are (1) those who love it, who assume responsibility as a rule and who in fact long for it, (2) those who will engage in the process with the right encouragement and (3) those who could care less about constant improvement. The first group are easy to work with, the second are more work and the third are not worth your trouble.

Those who love refinement will always take the lead when a call to higher function is sounded. They will work with you to inspire others; they are your advocates. You must work with them not to develop a superiority complex, as that can be a real turn off to those who need a little push to get moving and you must also watch for any manifestation of the martyr complex, where leading for the right reason morphs into leading for the wrong reason.

Those who need encouragement are the fun part. They challenge you to master your own emotions, to sharpen your skills and stay focused on the goal no matter how chronic the situation may be or how hopeless it may feel. They may put up resistance or take two steps forward and one step back out of habit, but at the end of the day people in this category – which is the majority of people on earth by the way – have hearts sufficiently supple and minds sufficiently keen to rise and meet the call.

Those who reject refinement and abhor responsibility will reveal themselves pretty quickly in an atmosphere conditioned regularly by refinement and progress. They’ll not only ignore the call but they will usually employ methods – both passive and aggressive – to desecrate the people and things around them (in order to escape the pressure inherent in positive change). You needn’t judge those who seek to take advantage for they judge themselves and if you don’t bite on their bait, they’ll be repelled by those who hold the line with you.

4 thoughts on “Inspiration or Legislation

  1. Zach

    There is definitely mobility available between these levels if we are willing to make a change. I see more and more legislation of things that should be unnecessary if only people were willing to do the right thing. I hope that in my lifetime we begin to see a turning around of that tendency, where there are more people who are willing to be right because it is the right thing, rather that because there will be a punishment if they do something differently.


  2. Mmc

    If the the first solution is making a “rule or guideline” I feel I’m being relegated to the last group without the opportunity to understand the issue and step up because I want to live like that too. Our present era of big government is a byproduct of usually going to that third group’s level on a national scale. It dumbs the country down! I guess as in most changes we can start with ourselves, our homes and then our businesses. Small business has the edge to assist with this change as about 51% of Americans are employed by one. Progress is dependent on a constant refinement of those involved. Good post, thank you!


  3. Marianne Q

    Thanks for sharing your experience and analysis of these three groups that people typically fall into. As a manager, I find that this is true and you do find pretty quickly which tendencies that people have. The ones that respond to inspiration and a little encouragement will find great fulfillment in that and so will I as you see them blossom and grow into who they truly are.


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