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It’s a good feeling, inspiration. We all like to feel inspired. Otherwise, why would there be so many lists of inspirational sayings, or motivational memes floating around out there?

I had anthropologist Margaret Mead’s famous line posted above my desk for years: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It inspired me to believe that change is possible, and that I could be part of it.

Every month, when the staff of Threads of Life get together for a meeting, one of us is assigned to launch the meeting with a reflection on our corporate vision and mission. It’s a very useful practice, because it ensures those foundational statements come alive in our day-to-day work, rather than collecting dust on a shelf.

When my turn came recently, I was thinking about Threads of Life’s vision statement,

Threads of Life will lead and inspire a culture shift as a result of which work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths are morally, socially and economically unacceptable

and the word that jumped out at me was “inspire”. I thought about the many Threads of Life members I’ve worked with, who persevere in the face of physical and emotional pain; who make the choice to try and help others by sharing their story, volunteering or fundraising. Now that’s inspirational, I thought!

One of the definitions of “inspire” is to make someone have a particular strong feeling or reaction, and to make someone feel they want to do something and that they can do it.

An article called “Why Inspiration Matters” in the Harvard Business Review says that inspiration is transcendent, and “such transcendence often involves a moment of clarity and awareness of new possibilities.”

By sharing their stories, whether through our newsletters and other publications or through our speaker’s bureau, family members help others find that transcendence. The moment of clarity allows people to see the real-life consequences of a workplace fatality, a serious injury or an occupational disease. And their safety message offers an awareness of new possibilities – the possibility that we could do things differently; that other families could be spared this pain.

Reading or hearing these stories can be heart-breaking, but the inspiration for change that they bring feels good. There’s a rush, a buzz to feeling inspired. However, if inspiration stops there, we will never create that culture shift for workplace safety; never achieve the vision. I think it’s up to us as listeners and readers to take our moment of clarity, our awareness of possibilities, and turn them into action. That’s when we, as a small group of committed citizens, will change the world.

Susan Haldane