Several years ago, a friend of mine stayed home from work for the third day in a row.
She was discouraged, somewhat depressed, and had very little energy. This might not have been such a big deal, but the work she ignored was a business she owned.
About a month later, our neighbor’s twelve-year-old son had taken guitar lessons for several months before announcing he would “never be able to play.”
The year before, he had come to the same conclusion about baseball and quit for the same reason.
At virtually the same time, a relative of my wife might have celebrated her 75th birthday with her family and friends. They had arranged a party and several members had flown in for the occasion.
Instead, the woman was too depressed to attend. Convinced the best part of her life was over, she stayed home and watched television by herself.
Whether or not you have dealt with issues like the ones outlined above, you probably have friends and acquaintances currently struggling with something similar.
Often, they describe their situation as discouragement or personal failure. Most can purge the issue from their minds—at least temporarily—in order to convince us that they are “fine.”
However, their inability to make themselves move in any particular direction (coupled with the reality that their friends are often unaware anything is bothering them at all) usually leads to greater discouragement, deeper depression, and an unwavering desire to pull the covers over their heads and never get out of bed again.
Why Do We Want Inspirational Words?
Tens of thousands of us search for inspirational words every day.
That may even be how you found your way to this article. And, as the title promises, it will provide you with three words of encouragement I believe will inspire you (or those you wish to inspire) far more effectively than any motivational quote or poster ever could.
But first, it’s important to understand why we seek inspirational words in the first place.
What are we hoping to find?
It seems apparent we are either:
1) Intending to inspire someone, or
2) Have recognized our own need to be inspired.
Unfortunately—at least if results are our desire—the vast majority of words people consider “inspirational” are rather useless.
If a person desires happiness, real change, motivation, or improvement in any area of their life (or the life of a friend or family member), that person isn’t searching merely for inspirational words. They’re searching for results—real, tangible results.
That’s why I was somewhat shocked to find that most articles that appear when searching for “inspirational words” offer little in the way of results.
The top result, for example, is merely a list of words ranging from the obvious (“inspire”) to the ridiculous (“juvenescent”).
Are these words related to inspiration? Sure.
Will reading them equip you with anything you can use to create actual results or change in your life or the lives of others? I wouldn’t bet on it.
What Are Real Inspiring Words?
What is inspiration anyway?
Inspiration: the process of being mentally stimulated to do a certain thing.
Assuming that dictionary definition is correct, the following also stands to reason:
Inspirational word: a word used to mentally stimulate one toward a specific outcome.
Consider the incredibly common situation of the child who announces that he will never be able to ________.
(Feel free to fill your own experience into the blank. These include: play the guitar, play the piano, hit a fastball, learn to ride a bike, play ping pong as well as Dad, throw a bait-casting reel like Mom, catch a grounder, hit a hundred targets in a row, etc.)
No matter the activity, do his parents want him to quit? Of course not.
Most parents, not knowing what else to do or say, simply do not allow it. They are determined their child will learn.
In other words, most parents lack an effective way to “prove” to the child that any skill, repeated consistently over time, always improves.
Therefore, they decide the child will learn the skill and that they (astonishingly) will make him learn!
And how might they go about this?
The same way parents have done it for generations.
“You will practice twice as much as you have been practicing. When you come home from school, you will practice before you go outside or use your phone.”
When the child says,
“I’m no good at this. I just can’t play!”
The parental response is usually,
“Go practice. And stop telling yourself that you can’t…because you can!”
So, you tell me…how often does this strategy work? Not very often…right?
The confrontations usually deteriorate into a test of wills that can go on for years.
My Own Experience
In my case, the test of wills lasted from the third grade until the eighth grade at which time my parents finally allowed me to stop taking piano lessons.
It is odd to me even now that they never figured out that I had stopped taking the lessons long before.
They never stopped paying for the lessons and I never stopped going to the lessons…but I was convinced I couldn’t play and I didn’t.
Six years of “piano lessons” and I never made it out of John Thompson’s Book II.
Wow. Thinking back, my poor mom and dad must have had quite a tolerance for conflict. And did I mention that they were both music majors?
So, what about the parents who want to avoid unnecessary confrontations? What do they do? I suppose many of them search for inspirational messages to give their children.
Three Inspiring Words
Allow me to introduce the first of The Three Most Inspirational Words You’ve Never Considered.
The first is a word designed to nullify confrontations between parents and their children about whether or not one is “good” at something.
This word provides hope for all when we are discouraged with our progress. The word is YET.
Inspirational Word #1: YET!
The word “yet” is filled with hope for the future.
It can be aggravating at times to hear it again and again. Especially when it is spoken in response to the whining we sometimes feel entitled to engage in.
But the power of YET is in its simple truth. YET is true. And that’s why YET always wins in the end.
Here—with commonly uttered statements followed by the appropriate response—are a few examples of how YOU can harness the power of YET.
Consider them the truest answers you can give another person…or yourself!
I just can’t play the guitar.
Right! You can’t play the guitar…yet.
I can’t catch fly balls.
Of course not. Neither can anyone else at first. The truth is: you can’t catch fly balls…yet.
I’m no good at math.
Of course you aren’t…yet.
I am not comfortable in front of a lot of people.
Isn’t that a coincidence? Warren Buffett felt the same way at one time. So did Adele. And Joel Osteen. And Thomas Jefferson and Barbra Streisand and Lady Gaga and Ghandi. You see, the truth is, you are not comfortable in front of a lot of people…yet.
Obviously, the YET applies in hundreds of situations.
You can’t sell? She can’t dance? He can’t figure it out? They can’t win? The answer—the truth—is yet, yet, yet, and yet.
No one was ever a great basketball player at first.
Even Michael Jordan got cut from his Junior Varsity team. The coach told him he wasn’t good enough. And that was true. But THE TRUTH at that time was that Michael wasn’t good enough…YET.
In relationships, careers, and hobbies—whether the issue in doubt is someone else’s or our own—the truth is this:
Today’s clouds have no bearing on next week’s weather.
Yes, it might be tough right now, but things change. They always do. And many of them change because we change.
We learn and grow and try again and measure and practice and become. Just like you are doing right now.
So quickly, go to the window and look outside. Still too cloudy for your taste? No worries…for the skies will be clear in the near future.
Soon, there will be a light breeze under a warm sun. How do I know? Because that’s how it always happens.
It just hasn’t happened yet.
Inspirational Word #2: PROUD
The second inspiring word is designed to erase doubt about whether or not one is “on the right track” or “making a difference.”
This word helps create the necessary atmospheric conditions in which dignity, self-respect, and honor can flourish. The word is PROUD.
The Power of Pride
It has been more than a decade, but I will never forget the day I learned the power of this simple, five-letter word.
It was an afternoon in June and I’d had the opportunity to spend an hour with an old friend.
We had not seen each other in some time though my wife and I had easily kept up with him through his work, which consisted of writing books, making television appearances, and being interviewed by magazines and newspapers.
During our years apart, you see, my friend had become quite famous.
I remember asking about his wife and children. I asked what he considered the most unusual place he had visited in his travels.
What had been his most exciting accomplishment, I wanted to know? And what were his plans for the future?
Too soon, his assistant leaned into the room and announced that our hour was up. My friend had an interview in five minutes, the assistant said.
As we stood to say our goodbyes, I shook my head and smiled broadly.
“Buddy,” I began. “I have just got to tell you how proud I am of you. I am SO proud of who you have become and what you are doing with your life. In fact, I am proud of you…and for you!”
For a moment, I received no response. When at last, after an awkward silence, he did reply, it was with a mumbled “Me, too.”
I smiled and kind of hit him on the shoulder like guys will do and he added, “…of you, I mean. Me, too. I am…of you.”
The assistant came fully into the room at that moment, we looked up, and the spell—or whatever weirdness was going on—was broken. We said goodbye and that was it.
I Couldn’t Believe What Happened Next…
I couldn’t help replaying our conversation as I exited the building. It had been an odd ending to what I thought had been an otherwise enjoyable hour.
Our reunion had been fun, friendly, and a lot like “old times” I decided. Right up until the last few moments. If I had done something wrong, I had no idea what that might be.
More than a year later, I saw my friend again. This time, he was on stage, speaking to several thousand people. He had no idea I was in the audience, but a feeling of déjà vu came over me as he began to ask a series of questions.
“Who has made a difference in your life,” he began, “but feels unappreciated? Do you know someone who has struggled and won, yet no one noticed their victory? Why do we praise our dogs more than we do each other?”
The arena was still, the audience silent, and for a long moment, my friend was quiet as well. As his pause lengthened, I looked at the overhead screen—the close-up rendered in high definition—and could see tears streaking his face.
My friend’s voice broke as he continued, but soon, his message was being strongly delivered.
“This has been the best year of my life,” he began. “It’s not just that I have accomplished more professionally or that I have become a better person… The contentment and joy I feel are not, in reality, a result of anything I have done.
“I am aware this might sound silly to you, but the sense of contribution I now have—the feeling of a job well done—is nothing I ever suspected I lacked…” He paused for a beat before adding, “…until a friend spoke these words to me: I am proud of you.”
Stunned to realize my friend was talking about me and referring to the simple phrases I had spoken to him more than a year earlier, I listened as he explained what that moment had meant.
“I stand before you today,” he said, “as a relatively accomplished adult—at least by the measures of fame and fortune. And though fame and fortune were certainly not even a goal of mine, I must say that I am still as shocked by what I am about to reveal, as you might be to hear it.”
No one breathed as the audience unconsciously leaned toward the stage.
“I am almost sixty years of age and in all my years on this planet, that was the first time anyone ever said they were proud…of me. Not a teacher, not a coach. Not even my father.
“Two quick thoughts about that,” he added. “One, as I’ve already stated, I was shocked at the difference it made in my life when it did happen. Two—and this is the essence of my message this evening—if no one has ever said ‘I’m proud of you’ to me, how many other people are out there waiting for you…just waiting for someone to notice them…to acknowledge their efforts…to be proud of who they are becoming?”
I slipped out that night without telling my friend I had been in the audience. I told myself at the time that it was a gallant move—an effort at not embarrassing my buddy.
Who Are You Proud Of?
Today, I think it is more likely that I left because I was the one who had been embarrassed.
I realize now that it doesn’t take a big person or much effort to “be proud” of a person like my friend has become.
The ultimate point he made on stage that night, however, has become very clear to me.
Therefore, I am more determined than ever to focus my attention and praise on the people—young and old, rich and poor—who rarely, if ever, experience the satisfaction and joy of having another person express gratitude and amazement at the life they are leading.
I am proud of you. I am proud for you. I am proud of the person you have become and of who you are becoming. I am proud of the difference you are making in this world, for this world, and for the people of this world. Yes, I am proud of you.
The word is PROUD. The inspiration it provides cannot possibly be measured.
Inspirational Word #3: IMAGINE
The final inspiring word is another one to which no limits can be attached.
Its power exists in each of the four dimensions—height, width, depth, and time.
Documented since the beginning of humanity, this word has a distinct and continuous history of supernatural authority over achievements previously considered impossible by reasonable people.
By harnessing this word, one can take “nothing” and turn it into “something.” The word is imagine.
Of these three inspirational words, IMAGINE provides the greatest degree of hope and control.
While YET is an adverb encouraging patience with one’s progress and PROUD is an adjective that acknowledges what one has already done or become…
IMAGINE is an action verb.
The word describes an activity in which you can (and must) choose to engage. Doubtful? Go ahead…right now…imagine something. I’ll wait.
Did you do as I asked? Yes, you did. Curiously, even if what you imagined was, That’s ridiculous. I’m not going to do this… and decided you would not participate, the fact remains that you chose (controlled) what to imagine and made it so.
Semantics, you say? No. Reality. But that is exactly my point.
Assuming for a moment that there are personal goals or life situations that are not yet “reality” for you, it is worth noting that for your desires to actually become reality at some point in the future, that “reality” must first be imagined.
Consider the fact that every single thing ever invented—significant or not—was first actively imagined by a single person. The wheel. A bridge. Contact lenses.
Before anyone’s dad ever took a nap in a “recliner,” someone, somewhere, looked at a regular chair and imagined a more comfortable design.
Band-Aids, zip-lock bags, and banana pudding—all were pictured in a person’s mind before becoming physical objects—useful, sealable, and edible.
Air-conditioning, the hammer, dental floss and whatever new gadget your grandmother declared “the best thing since sliced bread”… None existed before they were first imagined.
In truth, even sliced bread was an imagined luxury before it became a common reality.
Triggering the Butterfly Effect
When the thing one person imagines becomes real and useful to others, an amazing Butterfly Effect occurs.
The original result imagined by that first person sparks a progression of increasingly inspirational thoughts by other people, thereby becoming a rising tide of opportunity that floats many boats.
It happens like this:
In 1841, it took 110 days for the news to reach California that President William Henry Harrison had died.
More than a decade before, Samuel Morse had imagined a single wire that would transmit an electrical message in a code bearing his name. And it worked!
But no one else imagined it could be more than a parlor trick. And so, for a while, it was not.
By 1861, Edward Creighton—an executive with Western Union—imagined that the single wire could carry almost instantaneous messages from coast to coast. Furthermore, he imagined it could be constructed quickly.
That first transcontinental telegraph was completed in 112 days and the first message sent to President Abraham Lincoln.
The telegraph fascinated a young man named Alexander Graham Bell, who imagined the wire might also carry the sound of a voice.
On January 15, 1915, he made the first “call” to San Francisco and spoke to his longtime assistant, Thomas Watson. Bell was in New York City at the time.
From that moment until present day, one person after another has imagined improvements in whatever the current version of that original telegraph happened to be.
In order, the products of what they imagined is astounding:
From the telegraph to the telephone, we progressed to rotary-dialed telephone, a telephone with push-buttons, then to one that was portable!
The portable phone became entirely mobile with the advent of radio antennas, then smaller units hit the market as cell towers rose to the sky.
George Jetson “flip-phones” gave way to the Blackberry and the Internet, and now many of us enjoy an iPhone in whichever number or letter designation of that particular product Apple is currently producing.
How to Tap into Inspiration
So, if you are the one who needs to hear inspirational messages, know this:
Whatever you wish to accomplish, you must first imagine. And whatever you imagine, you can do.
On the other hand, if there is someone else you wish to inspire, take a few moments to imagine with them.
Imagine tomorrow. Prompt them to imagine what their life will be like when they find “the answer.”
Imagine with them the choices they will be able to make and the lives they will touch. In short, teach them to imagine. Teach them to think inspirational thoughts.
Living These Inspirational Words
As for you?
I can imagine the difference you are about to make in the lives of other people.
Can’t you just imagine the life you are about to create for you and your family?
I want you to know in advance how proud of you I already am.
And as good as it gets, remember that the best—your very best—is yet to come!