Posted by: kevinliebl | December 6, 2009


Inspiration Light BulbI was thinking the other day about what makes some business teams thrive and others struggle.  They can have equal talent, equal resources, and equal tasks – yet some seem to be energized and others get “stuck in the mud”.  I’ve come to the conclusion that much of this is due to an elusive element known as “inspiration”.

Inspiration is what gets us out of bed in the morning.  It is what helps us create the new marketing plan.  It is what causes us to lead the new team at the office.  It is what wakes us up in the middle of the night with the design change that will give the new product line its competitive advantage.  Inspiration comes at unlikely moments and from unexpected places.  It is difficult to create from scratch, and some people seem to have an uncanny way of finding it and duplicating it.

This weekend I went for my usual bike ride.  As I rode my 50-mile route into a headwind, I started wondering why I had decided to go for a ride when I could be laying on the couch reading the paper and drinking coffee.  To motivate myself, I usually look for a rider ahead of me and then try to chase them down and pass them.  As luck would have it, I saw a rider about a half-mile ahead and began to go after them.  The closer I got, I could tell it was a female.  She was clearly a strong rider because from behind, she had tremendous form.  On a road bike you try to reduce wind resistance by keeping your arms and legs close to the frame.  Her lower body was very surprisingly well aligned.  As I got closer to her, I realized why.  She had one leg.  Her left leg was completely missing.  It had been amputated at the hip.  Suddenly, my complaining about the wind, the hills and any other challenges seemed silly.  Here was rider with one leg, riding a very challenging course and keeping a very good pace.

When I caught her I looked over, but before I could say anything she said, “Good Morning!”  There was not a sign of pain or struggle on her face.  Her smile was sincere and heartfelt.  You could tell, she actually meant to wish me a good morning.  I was so inspired by her, that I said the first thing that came to mind, “You too!  You Rock!”  Not the most eloquent thing to say, but it was the best I could do.

She reminded me that inspiration can come from anywhere.  People find it in their co-workers, in sports athletes and celebrities, in their faith, in their families, in business books and many other places.  It is usually unexpected and it is almost always free.  Unfortunately, we often miss it because we are busy looking elsewhere.

The girl riding with one leg in Santiago Canyon inspired me more than she will ever know.  She reminded me that we can all help each other in very simple ways.  Stay inspired and do your best to inspire others to reach their goals.  It is the positive energy that helps us achieve more than we believe we ever could.


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  1. Good post. It’s always amazing to me how people can turn a difficult situation into something that transcends that challenge and they move on with a positive attitude. What inspires me is that we always have another chance to improve. Each new day offers an opportunity to be appreciative of what we have. Thanks.

  2. Nice post! It is always inspiring to hear how others have transformed their life challenges into a wonderful opportunity. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great story Kevin. Nice example of someone that’s succeeding regardless of whatever disadvantage they may have.

  4. Hi, at first I thought you were talking about my daughter Scout, 21 years old, a Jr. at UCLA. I adopted her when she was 7 years old and she too is missing a leg from a liquid fire in China.
    She does triathlons and is a Challenged Athlete.
    You can see a short 5 min. documentary on her by Miramax films on youtube : Scout Bassett. She travels the country speaking at businesses and events to inspire people on how to overcome trauma and not be a couch potato…you might enjoy…I enjoyed your blog…thanks, Susi Sherman Bassett LMU 1978

    • Susi,

      If she rides Santiago Canyon in Orange County, it could have been her. I ran into a few people later in the ride who said they were riding with her. They said that she was training for a half-Ironman. She was very, very impressive. Either way, your daughter is equally impressive. Anyone who can overcome adversity to achieve great things deserves our respect. Congratulation to you and your daughter! Thanks for the comment.

      – Kevin

  5. Wow! What a great and inspiring read! Thanks so much as it has boosted me for the rest of the day!! You just never know who you may run into or come across that can easily inspire you.

    Way to go Kevin, doing all that bike riding, that is awesome! Keep up the good work!

    I’m from our LinkedIn group and thought I’d leave a comment here as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Deb Lamb
    Freelance Writer and Marketer

    • Deb,

      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed the posting.

      – Kevin

  6. Hi, Kevin,

    If you expect something to happen and it happens, then you are correct. If you don’t expect something to happen and it does, it becomes memorable. If something becomes memorable and you share it, it is inspirational.

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational experience with us.

    Take care,


  7. Kevin, absolutely great post, it is these experiences that never seem to happen often enough. They always create clarity and inspiration. I agree with your point on never know when or where inspiration will come from, I have a love/hate relationship with the night I am wide awake at 2 or 3 in the morning because my mind is going at 110 mph. I love the Santiago Canyon ride, hope to see you on the road one day!

  8. I can share a similar experience while particiapting in a charity golf tournament. This golf outing comprised plaing 100 holes of golf. it was my first attempt to do this; not being a great golfer myself! Well, my inspiration to the present is having played with a young soldier that had both legs amputated. His injuries sustained while in Iraq. I also learned to appreciate his quality of life and how he has turned trhis challenge into an inspiration for all of us.

  9. Kevin –

    I love this story. It reminded me of myself at 23, right out of college. I was in the hospital with a 3rd degree burn. Feeling a bit sorry for myself. When on the news came a story about a special burn unit for kids. Kids that were burned badly. To see their hope and resilience completely changed my view of what was happening to me. It left me a changed person.

    Thanks for a great post!

  10. Wow. Thank you for being my inspiratioin this afternoon. Stories are often a source of inspritation and a tool leaders and teammates should use more frequenty.

    Thank you.

    • Tim,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for the feedback and have a great 2010!

      – Kevin

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