I realise that this title doesn’t look good, so please bear with me.

Hopefully it’s obvious that I don’t mean be a fire-lighter literally.  I’m talking here about the fire or passion that people need to achieve a particular task or goal.  The inspiration that drives great performance, the dreams that great people pursue with enthusiasm and vigour.

No matter who you are, you are surrounded by people who influence you, and you in turn influence others.

Unfortunately, some of us are fire-fighters, dousing the flames of enthusiasm through well-meaning, or sometimes just mean-spirited words of discouragement.

Thankfully, we also have the opportunity to help to light flames in the hearts of others and there are a few ways in which we can do that.

Be passionate.  There are very few things that inspire others like enthusiastic peers and leaders.  In everything you do, do it with such passion and high energy levels that you can’t help but inspire it in others.

The opposite is true as well.  Nothing diminishes enthusiasm like a dour, boring, pessimistic person who has given up on their dreams and can’t see why anyone else should have the satisfaction of reaching theirs. 

Be encouraging.  Sometimes, people want reassurance that they can achieve their goals and are looking for a fire-lighter to give them a word of encouragement that can propel them to the next level.  Be that person!  Be the one who deliberately goes out of their way to leave people feeling better about themselves at the end of a conversation.  An encouraging word doesn’t cost a thing, but it can be a great investment in someone’s future.

Alternatively, someone who uses their words to cynically bring others down, either to their face or to others is a fire-fighter, leaving people feeling trapped, helpless and discouraged rather than motivated to achieve. 

Be consistent.  There’s little point in being hot and cold.  If people come to you one day and leave inspired, but then you bring them crashing down the next time you meet them, the second interaction will have a much longer-lasting impact.  Any future time that you speak words of encouragement into people’s lives, the words will be met with a mixed reaction and the flames that you are looking to light won’t take hold.

As you assess the interactions that you have with others, are you a fire-lighter or a fire-fighter?

Then as you look around at the people you hang out with and who influence you, do you have enough fire-lighters in your life to encourage you to greater heights?

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