I often read authors and hear speakers who warn their audiences not to read or watch the news. Why? Because newspapers and news shows are so full of negativity. While this is certainly true, the advice is neither practical nor prudent.
The same folks who say we shouldn’t pay attention to the news do recommend reading lots of positive, upbeat material from self-help books and other sources. While I agree with this recommendation, it doesn’t go far enough.
Leaders need both information and inspiration. Information is basically neutral. We evaluate it and make a value judgment: this is good news or bad news, positive or negative.
If you are a homebuilder, news about housing starts being down isn’t–in your frame of reference–good news. It is, however, important information. Denying the reality doesn’t make it go away.
What’s happening around us shapes our strategies and tactics from operations to pricing to hiring. To ignore reality (much of which is negative) is dangerous. The goal for an effective leader is to be informed, and that requires accurate information that describes reality, both the good and the bad.
Inspiration is what encourages us to constructively use information. Inspiration is both the counterbalance to negativity and the impetus to move forward rather than give up.
Where should you be getting your inspiration? The sources are broad and include classic literature, self-help and religious writings as well as speakers, thought-leaders and clergy.
The danger of information is that we can become overwhelmed by the challenges it conveys and become blind to the opportunities. Orison Swett Marden, one of the earliest writers in the self-help genre, said, “Difficulties are great or small in proportion as you are great or small.” Inspiration wisely acquired and considered equips us to be greater leaders.
Information can create fear but inspiration creates courage.
Information describes what is happening but inspiration determines how we respond.
Information gives us ideas but inspiration is the fuel for acting upon those ideas.
For effective leadership, information and inspiration are inseparable. Information without inspiration can be oppressive but inspiration without information can be foolish. By considering and consuming both, we can become better.