As mentioned in our blog on our quest to understand inspiration (read it here), InspireCorps will be spotlighting individuals we interview about inspiration. In this first spotlight on Janet Patti, Ed.D., a professor of educational leadership at Hunter College and founder of Star Factor Coaching, we learned how inspiration can have a ripple effect – in this case, from the person who inspired Janet all the way down to me.
I started off our interview by asking Janet to describe the three defining characteristics of a person who has inspired her. Her response:
“He was positively relentless, living his dreams, and impacting change in the world.”
She was speaking about Robert Muller, a refugee of Nazi imprisonment, who devoted 40 years of his life to the United Nations and world peace. Janet spent a day with him in the mountains, exhilarated by his vision and passion for positive impact in the world. She felt moved by his famous words: “why don’t we teach the history of peace rather than the history of war?”
As she talked about Robert Muller and his many positive qualities as a leader and human being, I kept thinking about how these same qualities describe my experience of Janet’s leadership style.
As someone who has known Janet Patti both personally and professionally for eight years, I know that her mission is to make the world a more peaceful and empathetic place. In her current role as a professor, she teaches emotional intelligence-based leadership development to educational leaders. She believes that adults set the tone for students, and greater empathy at the leadership level trickles down to cultivate empathetic students. With more empathetic students as our future leaders, a more empathetic society leads to a more peaceful society.
Like Robert Muller, she lives her dream by impacting change in the world through spreading awareness and practice of empathy and emotional intelligence. This is her vision for how we accomplish peace.
Her leadership in the field of emotional intelligence and her positive impact on the world – peace through empathy – inspires me. I also feel inspired by her positively relentless attitude toward others and especially toward me.
My first personal experience of Janet was at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where I formerly worked when she consulted there. From the moment she walked into the room, she filled it up with her love, compassion, and caring for those around her. I experienced academia as intellect-driven and, as a result, sometimes cold and impersonal. Even though I barely knew her at the time, Janet immediately made me feel at ease, supported, and encouraged. Since then, she has actively sponsored me by inviting me to co-author with her on original research and emotional intelligence coaching programs. She demonstrates a positively relentless attitude toward me by believing in me and actively supporting me, and, as a result, I feel valued, respected, and confident around her.
Noticing the similarity between how Robert Muller inspired Janet and how Janet now inspires me, I wonder:
Can we know how to inspire others by knowing what inspires us and replicating it?
I leave you with a call to question: who inspires you in your life or work? Take a few minutes to think about his or her defining qualities. Then, consider how you demonstrate these qualities yourself… how you answer these questions may provide you with some answers about your own secret sauce for inspiring those around you.