Did a double take and told her to text me that saying, so that I would not forget. I spend a lot of time talking with other educators, reading, and listening about how to improve schools, connect with students, staff, parents, raise achievement levels, etc. I also spend a lot of time talking about how to improve in all aspects of life, much of it intrapersonal and interpersonal communication and thought.
I also like to think of myself as someone that models, encourages, and maybe even inspires a few people. At that moment her statement made sense, it made me think...
Who needs to own the inspiration and who needs to find it vs. be given it?
Who needs to be trusted enough that they can find inspiration on their own given the right environment and relationships?
Who and what inspires me and do I choose that inspiration or is it forced on me?
It just made sense, as a reminder, that to inspire kids, we don't need to talk to them, but with them. We don't need to come up with perfect examples of success stories or "go get'em" speeches. We don't need to compare students to others, or tell them they are "great" to achieve. As a matter of fact it is probably better to concentrate on their efforts, give them the power, and courage, so they can demonstrate their capabilities.
We need to be there for when they fall, we need to encourage them to try when they want to quit, and most importantly, we need to trust them and the decisions they make as long as these will help them grow.
Let them find their inspiration, all you have to do is respect them, and trust that they will. Certainly provide them with experiences, opportunities to try, and some guidance, but let them be inspired by what motivates them. Inspiration is not based on what you think, but how much you trust them to find their own. Empowerment is built through trust.