To consider a life without music would (for me) be an unfathomable nightmare. A bleak, dreary-grey, muted kaleidoscope of an existence.

Music has been my constant companion throughout every stage of my life; dutifully chronicling the first time I fell in love (and the first time I fell out of love for that matter).

Music has accompanied almost every significant moment of my life – and all the insignificant moments in between.

I only need to hear a song on the radio to be instantly transported back to a moment in my past; a poignant memory; a person; an era.

Music has soothed my soul during the sad times in my life.

It has nursed me through heart break.

It is my weekend running companion.

It gets me boogying down in my PJ’s with my five year-old daughter (complete with hairbrush microphone in hand).

I rarely work at my desk without my trusty Spotify play lists.

And it’s even inspired a few blogs (see here and here for just two examples).

Me and my trusty headphones chillin to Bonobo this afternoon.
Me and my trusty headphones chillin’ to Bonobo this afternoon.

So, what has music got to do with leadership?

In a word – inspiration.

As leaders it’s our job to inspire others.  Inspiration is such a vital ingredient in successful leadership – we all know this.

But how can we inspire others if we don’t find inspiration ourselves?

Similar to the instructions we receive on aeroplanes about donning our own oxygen masks before putting them on our kids, we can hardly expect to inspire others if we don’t know what inspires the most important person in our world –  ourselves.

Leaders need to discover and tap into the wells of inspiration which fire us up and fill up our tanks.

We need to find what sets alight our own hearts, minds and souls.

We need to ignite our own spark first and foremost, in order to succeed in lighting it in others.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do as leaders is to find the source/s of inspiration which evoke possibilities and encourage expansiveness within us.  Those little things (or people) which give us the energy to “do our thang”, whatever that may be.

For me, it’s music.

For you, it might be something completely different.

I asked 3 great leaders I know to share the 3 things which inspire them. This is what they said:

Shane said:

  1. Innovation and creativity. I love it – the “outside the square” moments are what keep me coming back for more.
  2. Similar to point 1, achievement itself. Working to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to deliver a project or achieve a personal goal – whether it’s part of a team or in isolation.
  3. Music – I would have selected this one also. It can get you energised around the office and provide a place of solace when you need down time to allow you to recharge.

And because I feel I owe you one more…

  1. People – other people who share the same vibrancy and creativity; suppliers of the Eureka! moments throughout the day, or those who help you to achieve clarity around road blocks.

Lynne said:

  1. Stories and conversations.
  2. Nature – a beautiful day, an amazing wave.
  3. Music and dance – moving and feeling the possibilities.

Marina said:

  1. Success. And driving a project or idea through to completion and reaping the rewards as part of a successful team. It makes you forget the tough challenges and makes you want to do it again!
  2. The success of others and great story telling from leaders who have made a difference.
  3. Legacy. I want to make a positive difference to and with others in my lifetime.

It’s not enough to know what inspires you. That’s only half the magic pill. Once you identify what inspires you, make sure you get a regular dose of it! Fill up your cup. Don’t go for too long before you quench your thirst.  Inspiration is one thing I don’t think you can OD on (unless you are inspired by illicit drugs?)

I can’t remember the last day I went without listening to music. But I know if I did, my resilience would lower, my creativity would dry up and I would be less fulfilled.  I even would go so far as to say I would be less of a coach without it.

AND….drum roll… in the theme of music and inspiration, our next guest leader who I interview for The Leaders Digest this coming Tuesday also has music in his veins (#understatement!) and I’m SUPER FREAKIN’ excited about sharing my interview with him – with you guys.

You are in for a treat.

So “stay tuned” (sorry I couldn’t resist) – I’m off to listen to some of my current faves – Chet FakerLondon Grammar and Sam Smith.

What inspires you?
And, are you filling your cup?

As always I welcome your comments and feedback in the space provided below.