Leadership: Aspire to Inspire . . .

Some thoughts from the perspective of multiple careers

Leadership_ Aspire to Inspire

I have been given a golden opportunity to share my thoughts on leadership from the perspective of having two very different and fulfilling careers. I will take this opportunity to discuss with you two words that mean a great deal to me and to the legacy we leave behind in this world. Many people believe that in our younger years we work hard since we aspire to great things.

Some call this effort our “inner drive” to be the best we can be. How does that aspiration “grab hold?” How do we know when our aspirations are realistic, achievable and worthy of commitment? Therein lies the rub! In my opinion, we feed that aspiration through inspiration.

When we have great leaders, mentors, friends or family that inspire us and guide us through life-giving opportunities that we are blessed with every day, we begin to feed those aspirations and give strength to that aspirational drive. Inspiration is such a beautiful, and often, a spiritual trait. Although inspiration is available to all, at times it seems that only a few people seem to truly recognize and avail themselves of this precious gift to make life better for themselves and for others. There are, however, people in our midst who live quiet lives of integrity, trust, and faith. They inspire, often without words, through their example. These people, whether they know it or not, are able to inspire others through their strong sense of faith and to help others to see the best in themselves and to be and to live “inspired” lives.

I have been so fortunate to have had two wonderful careers. I taught for 10 years and was a principal for 7 years, all at the same school that was populated with 98% economically disadvantaged students. Talk about opportunities! It was clearly my choice to view this assignment as the opportunity of a lifetime. Every day we shared something different, but the teachers, students, parents, and staff – we were family! We believed in each other, and we helped to provide that belief in ourselves to our students. The school was very successful, and the staff was one of a kind. My aspiration at that time was to be the best principal for my students, whom I always referred to as my kids!

With that inner aspiration, that desire to succeed, the school, the teachers and staff, the parents, the community and especially the students, all succeeded to become a TEA “exemplary school.” Some students that I taught are now grown and have moved into the teaching field, and some on to positions as principals. Was this because of me or the inspiring climate at our school? Was this because I made it look so easy, or because I simply loved what I was doing, and my inner aspiration inspired others to do the same or even better?

My second career gives me so much satisfaction and fulfillment. I help people find jobs! Kelly Services, Inc. has provided me with the opportunity to do what I love. At our core, we are a community. Each day we welcome into our community the varied talents of all people who embrace Kelly Services’ culture of service, teamwork, and integrity. This company offers the opportunity to work with the best companies in the world, and to make a difference in the communities in which we live and work. Although many have said it is very different from education, it is NOT. This job and my previous role are all about PEOPLE! We live our lives in hopes of taking ourselves and others to be the best we can be. In my current job, I help to provide guidance, support and hope that with courage and conviction and patience and persistence, we will find what we are seeking. First, we must believe!!!

Again, with my passion, my aspiration, to help those who are looking for a job find one, I continue to feed that inner aspiration. Along the way, I hope I have inspired others to do the same. Sometimes, I feel like the link between aspiration and inspiration is closely linked to the “pay it forward” concept. How can I pay it forward? How do we aspire to inspire? I challenge you all today to think about your lives and your career. How have you aspired or inspired someone? Are you thinking about your leadership traits in this way? What would happen if you did? Now is the time to pay it forward!

Thank you to LeadershipVoices, for allowing me to voice my aspirations. Perhaps this short leadership message will inspire others to share their gifts in a new way.

Sophia Gaona is a Senior Talent Advisor for Kelly Services. She most recently served as the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance.
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