Last weekend, my son and I did a bit of Parkrun tourism. In recent weeks, we have run Bournemouth, Poole, Moors Valley, Upton Country Park, Basingstoke and were looking for a different one to do as we had some time to go slightly beyond the usual local parameters. SO I had seen that last week was the one year anniversary of the Lymington Woodside park run and so we decided to give that one a go.
When we parked the van up, I saw a group of experienced Parkrunners getting out of vehicles and heading out towards the start point (I say “experienced” because they had a 100 park run and a 250 park run t-shirt on), and one of the men with them seemed familiar. When we got to the briefing, I saw the same man take off his jacket and was wearing a very familiar orange Parkrun t-shirt. These t-shirts usually have your home Parkrun named on them so people know where you re from – mine has Bournemouth on, for example, and the man’s orange t-shirt simply had the word “founder” underneath – that was it, this was the one and only Mr Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of Parkrun, the man who set up the very first event and turned it into the phenomena that it is today with hundreds of thousands of regular runners.
After the briefing, I had to ask, “hello Paul, thanks for all you have done, can we get a selfie?” to which one of his team replied that he’d take a photo of us instead, and here it is.
It was a lovely moment for us. As soon as we stood back up, Paul stepped to the front of the crowd of runners, said a few words and started the race. He even stayed around toward the end of the race to give my son a high-five as he neared the finish line.
We were really buoyed by this, and I spoke to my five year old son about what this man had done and how great it was that we had met him, and it made me recognise how lovely it is to meet inspiring people, and people who have legacies or have made some sort of impact upon the way we live our lives.
I have written here about heroes of mine and featured heroes on my podcast; these are people who have inspired me:
1. Hypnotherapist Meets His Hero – The One and Only Stuart Pearce.
2. My Take On The Adage “You Should Never Meet Your Heroes.”
3. Hypnosis Weekly podcast – Episode 78 – Special Edition – Heroes of Hypnosis – Émile Coué.
This is not just hero worship – it turns out that there is a great deal of evidence to support how good it is for us to be inspired. Researchers Thrash and Elliot (2003) even created an inspiration scale to measure it!
In their extensive work on inspiration, they have shown how feel good brain chemicals are released when we are inspired, how it increases mood and well-being in a number of ways, it causes us to take inspired action, to be more motivated, have a heightened sense of purpose and even to become better at what we do (see studies: 1. Inspiration as a psychological construct. 2. Inspiration and the promotion of well-being.)
If you examine the research further, you can easily work out for yourself that inspiration matters. It has mattered to me to have heroes and to be inspired to go in the directions that have been important to me in my life. It also matters to me now for my children to have strong role models and inspiring people in their lives, and was another reason why I was so keen to get our picture taken with the Parkrun founder (that and my love of taking selfies which has been amply demonstrated here on this blog before today).
According to the evidence, inspiration drives us to achieve goals, increases our productivity, our creativity, and well-being. Whereby much of our current educational system involves standardised tests and has a strong focus on ability, the important role of inspiration is often overlooked. I’m guessing that the teachers you found inspiring in your life where teaching subjects you developed a love for and perhaps even ended up thriving in? Inspiration transforms and moves a person away from apathy and towards an exciting world of possibility. What’s more, it all happens without any shift in ability or skill, and in fact propels the level of ability that the person believed they were capable. Due to inspiration being seemingly intangible and elusive, there is an underemphasis of it in education, but as recent research shows, inspiration can be activated, manipulated, and captured, and has an important effect on many important life outcomes.
Knowing this might therefore cause cause one to feel pressured into becoming inspired and the writer Elizabeth Gilbert quite rightly expresses this concern in an inspiring TED talk she gave. You shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to be inspired and the scientific studies mentioned here (along with others you can go and research on the subject) tend to suggest that inspiration is not willed; it happens.
This doesn’t mean that it is beyond your control to become inspired. Instead, think of inspiration as something you can increase the likelihood of occurring in your life. The research demonstrates quite clearly that preparation, openness to experience and positivity will all help. Importantly though, exposure to inspiring role models like those I’ve been referring to here today also counts a lot. SO do all you can to be around and interact with people who will inspire you.
You might find this article useful to help create more inspiration in your life.
How To Get Inspired – Inspiration This Way….
Make it your aim to set up the best circumstances for inspiration to happen. Likewise, help others have the right circumstances in their lives too. Elizabeth Gilbert says that she keeps reminding herself this,
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your efforts, then ole. And if not, do your dance anyhow. And ole to you nonetheless– I believe this and I feel like we must teach it. Ole to you nonetheless for just having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.”
You can watch the full presentation by the Author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, she is another person who inspires me: