Appearing before Congress, famed astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson opened with a quote:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French aviator
The plea was simple, yet powerful: If you want to motivate people towards a cause, you have to make them yearn for something greater than what they’re doing.
If they’re learning science, inspire them to think about the awe-inspiring bigness of space or incomprehensible smallness of all matter.
If they’re learning to write, introduce them to their heroes and how those people make them feel.
And if they’re marketing a brand, selling a product, or hiring a team, focus them not on the tactics or the quarterly goals, but on the change they’ll create in others or in the value they’ll provide.
When we talk about “intuition” on Unthinkable, we don’t talk about snap judgments. We don’t talk about gut feelings. We don’t talk about clairvoyance. We talk about process — a practical set of questions we can ask ourselves to pull out our answers from within.
That process always begins with the same question: “What is my aspiration?”
What do you long for? What is your version of the immensity of the sea?
On the show recently, we saw the power of an aspiration thanks to a story from the Chief Digital Officer of viral sensation Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (yes, really), and we tried to ground “aspiration” with a practical definition after speaking to an up-and-coming jazz trombonist.
If you want to build a blog, don’t demand that people gather keyword research. Help them aspire to teach your audience in powerful new ways.
If you want to build a sales team, don’t measure number of calls and connects in a day. Empower them to be trusted advisors to your prospects.
If you want to build anything special, don’t start with the tactics. Start with an aspiration.
If you want to build a ship, teach them to long for the immensity of the sea.
This article inspired by the following story: