After writing nine books on leadership and interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs, I am convinced that you can not inspire others unless you are inspired. And the inspiration comes from the only emotion that is the most contagious of all – joy.
So far you've seen or heard of UCLA's perfect 10-floor routine Katelyn Ohashi in a recent competition. Although technical performance was flawless, the 88-second routine did not become viral just because of its brilliantly executed moves, divisions, and jumps.
In a telephone interview with the New York TimesOhashi summed it up better in seven words: "What you see is how I feel."
When you change the way you feel inside, the performer your audience sees will change.
Ohashi's video has spread because unbridled joy is irresistible. O Wall Street Journal Sports journalist Jason Gay may have summed up the best in the title of his article: "The Sense of Joy." He writes that the millions who watched the video are "amazed by it, delighted by it, amazed by it, moved by it … It is joyful, it is so, so joyful, it radiates warmth and joy."
Radiate is an appropriate verb to describe Ohashi's performance. It means "sending waves of energy from one thing to another."
You can see the energy moving with a look at the expressions on the faces of Ohashi's teammates. Ohashi's teammates are raising their arms in celebration, clapping, clapping, singing along and synchronizing their movements with hers.
Neuroscientists who study emotion would not be surprised.
The science of emotional contagion
Researchers of human behavior are studying an area called emotional contagion. Simply put, when you get close to happy people, their happiness goes unnoticed.
Psychologist Peter Totterdell conducts research on contagion and collective sports. He sees the teams as perfect labs for this type of research because they act as "small social networks." Totterdell says the collective mood of a team is often in sync with their leader's mood. When a leader is optimistic, positive energy is transferred to individual players – radiates from the top.
How you feel about your job, product, company, or career is what others will see. When you "act" in the commercial stage, say, in the form of a presentation, you are conveying what you feel inside. If you do not enjoy the subject, people will see and react accordingly. If you have passion, enthusiasm and joy, you will inspire the people around you.
Ohashi receives his joy back
Ohashi's background story is well known so far. One of the best gymnasts in the country, Ohashi left elite gymnastics after injuries and verbal abuse (of coaches and spectators) affected his psyche. She had lost her passion for the sport, only to rediscover it after joining the UCLA faculty in 2015.
In a video on the move for Thread ToolsOhashi reflects on the decision. "I have not felt this kind of happiness for a long time. I found my joy, my voice, my self and my love for the sport."
Ohashi's smile is real. Your exuberance is real. It is not an act. It shows and spreads.
A leader sets the example on any team – in sports and in business. Since your emotions tend to spread, dig deep to find your passion for your company, field or industry.
After that, do not be afraid to share it. Your audience will love you for it.