To aspire is to rise up to a great plan, an abundant hope of fulfilling a worthwhile mission. To inspire is to convey a feeling of joining a higher cause, influencing soulful action. Simply defined, aspire is an individual effort while inspire brings others into the mix. How do they impact the way we lead?

Aspire and Inspire: Digging Deeper

We read a quote, and we experience a warm feeling inside, calling us to think and work in a better way. We hear someone speak, and we stand up in an ovation of a call to act differently. We read a book, and we close it while opening up a new chapter in our life. We are inspired. Someone came into our life in some way, and we feel differently because of their message or actions.

I stand up, and I reach higher. I reach for that position to take me to new places, new responsibilities, and new influence. I reach for that opportunity to change the world through my writings. I rise up to the challenge of building a platform in which thousands gather to hear every word. I vow to change the world through my thoughts and actions. I aspire to do great things.

Inspire is an “others” activity and aspire is an “I’ activity. This may be too straightforward. However, do these two mix well? Is “aspire” the middle filling of sweet inspiration? Or, is being inspired enough to make a life work well?

Aspire and Inspire: Separate or Together

A disconnect happens when inspire and aspire standalone. When it happens, both lose their meaning.

We focus a lot on inspiration. We want to be inspired because we like the way it makes us feel. However, if we just inspire or feel inspired, is that enough?

Similarly, aspire in a solo mode can be limiting. Inside, we feel good about what we are thinking, writing, and doing. Without others involved, it loses some luster. It isn’t about always needing an audience for what we aspire to do; it is about how communities are needed to make things happen in real, meaningful ways.

So, let’s pair “Aspire” and “Inspire” and see what transpires!

Aspire to Inspire


If both inspiration and aspiration are missing from our lives, we lose our soul. We have a fire within, but it needs to be tended to. Without some effort, we become un-engaged and, worse, disengaged. Days float by as if we are lost at sea, and we are. There needs to be some level of either inspiration or aspiration to bring a spark to our lives.


What if we just aspire? Now, some would argue that one cannot aspire without some inspiration. Although there is some truth to this, there are people who have that inner drive and are comfortable pursuing large, meaningful goals without much inspiration coming in. Without a solid inflow of inspiration, aspirations may become hollow or off-target. Without inspiring others, we become figurines, standing for many to see but no one to hear.

It may be ego-centric people, or it may be people completely bounded up within their own world. Being self-engaged may eventually lead to frustration, dashed hopes, and delayed dreams.

Sideline Engaged.

On the other side, only being inspired means we feel the passion of what is being said and done, yet we just wallow in the emotion. There is no action to bring it to life, enlivening it with our effort and unique talents. We sit on the sidelines, soaking it all in, yet we avoid getting in the arena of meaningful activity.

Similarly, if we are just stringing words together to stir up, we just run along the sidelines and never get in the game. A sideline life is a sidelined life.

Purposefully Engaged.

When we add in the right mix of inspiration and aspiration, something magical happens. Purpose ensues! We have lofty goals; we have a meaningful mission. What we aspire to do stirs inspiration in others to join in. And, we are open to be inspired. It’s the fuel for our aspirations.

In tandem, aspiration and inspiration work amazingly well together, better than any duo you can possibly imagine. One powers the other and leans on another. When one is weak, the other re-engages us. When one is stronger, the strength pulls the other up. When both are robust, anything can be accomplished.

In this spirited place, we are open to be inspired. It fuels our aspirations. We also are committed to aspire to do great things in our life and in the way we lead. It energizes others, arousing them to do more and engage completely.

What’s Next?

The question is: Do you need to aspire to inspire? My answer would be a resounding “both!”

As leaders, we need to lift our words and actions up to accomplish meaningful, purpose-filled goals. Calling on ourselves and others to achieve bigger, better things for a common good is inspiring. Without aspirations, inspiration is a sporadic emotion, fading in and out of focus. We need to move beyond the quick-hit, feel-good moments and move into doing things that matter for the long haul, celebrating successes all along the way.

With aspiration, we see on the horizon what is possible, what can be achieved. With inspiration, we whistle while we do the work. It puts the sparkle in our eyes and in our soul.

It is time to aspire greatly, lead spiritedly. It is time to aspire to inspire.

How do aspire and inspire mix in the way you lead and live?