Inspiration versus Perspiration

In simple words, inspiration is when someone  motivates you through their actions or words to do something. Perspiration is sweating it out after a physical activity.

In life, we need both perspiration and inspiration.   Managers learn to work hard as they grow up the career ladder. They not only learn how to perspire but master the art of making their team members also perspire.  This is a critical attribute to succeed in career and life.

However, as we grow in the organisational hierarchy, we have to grow from being a manager to a leader. The manager focuses on tasks while the leader focuses on people. While accomplishing your task is a basic necessity in organisations, motivating your people is critical for success and growth.

In my books, when managers get their jobs done they make their team perspire. On the other hand, when leaders create an environment for their team to give their best, they inspire them. Thus managers focus on perspiration while leaders on inspiration.

Is perspiration necessary ? In my view, we need to focus on tasks and hence it may be necessary to work hard and perspire. But beyond a point, when team members feel empowered and are able to accomplish their tasks without any guidance they need to be inspired to move to the next level.

So, in the organisational context, we have to strike a fine balance between perspiration and inspiration. It may be worthwhile to conclude that as we grow in the hierarchy, we have to evolve as an inspirational leader rather than be known a perspirational manager.

This may be equally true in life. Even in our own families as children grow up we need to inculcate the value of hard work. We may call this as perspiration. But as they approach teenage and grow beyond, we as parents have to be a role model so that they are inspired by our actions.  We may realize sooner than later that teenage children are no longer interested in our advice. They may follow our actions more than  our words.

It may be worthwhile to conclude that as leaders, managers or parents we have to lead by example. Our actions speak louder than words. So, according to me, perspiration may be getting things done whereas inspiration may be role modelling what you expect from others.

Time to strike the right balance between perspiration and inspiration. Try yourself as you are the best judge.

S Ramesh Shankar

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