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the power of inspiration...


The day before the event one of my much loved cats suddenly passed away; it was a shock and I was knocked for six. I debated whether or not to attend the event at the BBC... thankfully I did!

Despite feeling slightly emotional and somewhat distracted, I soon found myself totally mesmerised and immersed in the experience; totally connected with the Emeli, the music, every lyric and every word she passionately spoke to the audience. It was like being transported to another world. I’ve always enjoyed Emeli’s music and had a few weeks before been blown away by her concert at the O2 - but I can’t say I’d ever connected with her and her music to this extent, seeing her so up close and personal. I lost count the number of times I mouthed the words “wow” and turned to Andy to see both tears in our eyes and massive smiles on our faces! It’s got me reflecting on what it is that some people possess that makes them so engaging. What is it that makes them shine so brightly they leave you saying, in the words of Andy, “OMG I just want to be her best friend and hang out with her all the time!.” Even beyond the music that Emeli writes and sings (which is obviously brilliantly crafted and performed), there’s more to it. I loved Michael Jacksons music ever since watching Thriller but never really felt an emotional connection with him or what he was trying to express through his music. Emeli Sandé quite literally lights up the room when she walks in. It’s bad enough having serious 'hair envy' looking at her new 'hair-do'... but when she speaks and when she sings, something magical happens. She leaves you feeling inspired and energised to go out in the world and do great things. I noticed that when she sings, she closes her eyes so tight, at times you can clearly see the whites of her eyes as they roll back. It’s as if every song transforms her to another place. If feels real, it’s very powerful and a great example of how to inspire others. I think much of this power to inspire comes from her authenticity. When she speaks, you see she’s slightly shy and nervous. She plays with the cuffs of her dress, she holds her hand up to cover her mouth when she laughs. But she’s also courageous, bold, articulate, reflective, honest. Her vulnerabilities make it easier to relate to her - I know I do some of the same things when I’m feeling nervous or in the spotlight (not singing of course!). As confident as I can often appear, those natural fears can’t help but creep out at what often feels like the worst possible time. Truth be known, I think they are the best times to appear. If you want to connect with others, communicate a message and achieve followship. Just like when someone steps on stage to deliver a presentation and they slightly stumble over their words or worst still, trip over the microphone stand. It’s ok. It’s life. It’s real. Being real and showing others you’re only human is a great way to emotionally connect, engage and influence others. Emeli is engaging because she is genuine and real. She’s not pretending to be someone she’s not. She’s also not afraid to be her true self - no matter how shy or vulnerable she may be feeling, being so open to judgement and criticism. Stepping out of her comfort zone drives her to be the very best version of herself. It’s intriguing and infectious to watch. There is nothing quite as magical as witnessing another human-being shining bright - being courageous, sharing their passion and talents. It’s strangely empowering and incredibly inspiring. When Emeli speaks of her inspirations during the interview, I notice that her eyes light up. I’m sure mine are too as I write this 40,000ft in the air! Listening to her being interviewed, I think I discovered much about what makes her so inspiring, and what makes me, and so many others, want to support and follow her. At the risk of repeating what I’ve just poured onto the page... Her eyes shine when she speaks and when she smiles. She is open, honest, vulnerable and slightly shy. She’s authentic and real, and has a deep sense of purpose for her life and career which she’s completely uncompromising about. Shes strong, determined. She’s relatable and thoughtful. She’s faced rejection, bullying, belittling and all sorts of attempts to keep her small... and she fought through every challenge with an a strong will to succeed. Her unwillingness to compromise in any way about the things she’s most passionate about is truly inspiring. She’s grateful for everything that’s coming her way too - the opportunities she has to fulfil her true purpose in life and share her gift of musicality to the world. She reflects on this before she goes on stage and it helps her deliver the very best version of herself every time. Ok - I’m risking becoming one of those stalker type super fans here. It’s actually not just Emeli Sandé that’s inspired me and inspired this blog. The idea of lighting up the room first hit home when I watched another ‘Emeli Sandé’-like lady called Kathryn Temple in her soul biographies film “On knowing Happiness.’

She’s our inspiration here at The Happy Learning Co. for a reason! Here’s why... In the film, Kathryn introduces the idea of lighting up the room when you walk into it - which of course, for anyone wanting to make a good impression, have great relationships or positively influence others, is an amazing ability to possess. It’s better, as Kathryn reminds us, than lighting up the room when you leave. Watch the film, in the about us section.

What she says about happiness, relationships and living your one precious life to the full is interesting. But again, just as with Emeli singing 'hurts' or 'clown' on the piano with know where to hide, Kathryn’s delivery of her message is breathtaking, incredibly engaging; mesmerising. Those eyes. That laugh. The invisible light that shines and bursts off the screen and draws you in. I dare you to watch it and turn away for even a second! When I reflect on what makes me still watch that film several times a month and feel like I ‘know the bones’ of Kathryn even though we’ve still not met (we must fix that soon!), I’m reminded again of the power of authenticity and happiness - the power to inspire. The impact it can have, especially when you can broadcast it to others. It’s a gift that I’m sure comes naturally to some and needs to be nurtured and developed in others. But it’s within us all I’m sure. There’s so much to learn from these inspiring individuals and the people, who ever they are, that inspire you. The people you seem to connect with in a way that makes you want to follow and support them however you can. The people that make you want to be a better person and inspire you to achieve something meaningful in your life. Kathryn’s impact on Andy and I was so profound that it gave us the courage and confidence to start up The Happy Learning Co. She continues to inspire us through her work with the Happiness Foundation and the success of her various personal development programmes. Emeli and Kathryn constantly remind us to stay true to ourselves and the passions, values and beliefs that we hold dear and to be uncompromising when it comes to these. As leaders, as customer service providers, as new employees joining transforming companies.... we all have the power within us to unlock this potential to inspire others, light up the room and achieve great things. We all have the power to take a passion and make it our purpose. In the words of Emeli Sandé... “We all have a light to shine. Use it, otherwise someone else will use it for you.” Yesterday I said goodbye to my furry baby Mario and reminded myself once again that life is short... far too short to live it in a way that makes creating happiness feel like the impossible dream. To live life as anyone other than the very best version of yourself. To not take every opportunity to light up the room when you walk into it, to not do something kind, generous or thoughtful. To not invest your time creating happiness, inspiring others and getting the most from your one precious life. It sounds easy when you say it like that. Of course it’s not. Creating happiness is about riding the “highs and lows” (oh sorry - another Emeli Sandé song coming through!). It’s a journey which takes lots of courage. As I said at the beginning, inspiration is all around us and can hit us at any moment. I invite you to take some time to reflect on who last inspired you and why? If you can’t think of an example - get yourself along to an Emeli Sandé concert quick or go to and watch the amazing Katherine Temple in “On Knowing Happiness.” Secondly, if you want to create more happiness in your life or work... Reflect on and write down three things that you’re passionate about... then commit to doing them more often. Who knows what you might discover in the process... Ok - I’m off to sleep now. I’m travelling to what’s fast becoming my second home in Malaysia to launch an amazing new company induction as part of a wider engagement and service improvement programme we’ve been working on... and I really can’t wait! I’m listening to Emeli Sandé to spur me on to be nothing but the very best of myself when I get there. Much happiness everyone! Helen :-) Get happy... Discover how we help inspire happy work places all around the world. Kathryn Temple is CEO and Founder of The Happiness Foundation, an amazing organisation committed to helping people make the most of their one precious life. BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes. Listen to Emeli Sandé yourself... on the 27th and 28th November 2017 (7pm and 11pm tbc) Check out the website for more details.

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