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To inspire or to engage, that is the question?

There might be a fundamental difference between wanting to inspire and wanting to engage that could possibly lead to different project solutions.

Photo of Tino Elgner
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Hi gang, this is my first post here and I am super excited to be part of this community. I have read a couple of your posts and thought the following analysis might add value to the research discussion at this point.

From a project management perspective, I have learned that the biggest difficulty in the beginning is to determine and put into words the “actual problem statement” that later can be shared and UNDERSTOOD by all stakeholders.

From my perspective, the question that is raised here uses two words that I find particularly interesting - “inspire” and “engage” – because they might divide the solution of the actual problem and therefore the resources that will need to be spend into two different directions by addressing/segmenting two different types of people.

To inspire from my perspective means to get another person to emotionally connect with a cause that results in a personal conviction of following a certain course of action. To take the hurdle of inspiration might take a long time but might also create a long lasting relationship, as in the end the need of an inspired person might mainly be centered on having the right platform and tools to turn his/her beliefs into something tangible. In other words, once inspiration has occurred engagement comes naturally.

To engage on the other side, usually requires a certain push from the outside to take place. Yes, engagement can come naturally through inspiration but engagement can also come through other things such as perceived rewards. In other words, we could get the youth do to something if we figure out what they would perceive as the right rewards for this kind of action, whereas an inspired youth might not need rewards at all.

From my perspective, when talking about “mentorship” the focus should be merely be on how to inspire, as a mentor strictly speaking doesn’t focus on external rewards as a motivational source. And in the end, inspiration usually breeds the desire to inspire others – a powerful word of mouth and thus marketing method.

However, the actual question now is, can we actually INSPIRE the youth or might it not be “easier” to mainly focus on engagement and thus the perceived rewards first, with the goal of creating inspiration through the actual actions?


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Photo of Lina Padilla

Your distinction between the words inspire and engage are crucial for us because you are right, they have different meanings. Those words represent two different audiences of people who may participate. Thanks for your insight because it is something we must keep in mind moving forward!

Photo of Tino Elgner

Thank you very much for your feedback Lina; truly appreciate it.

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