I have a great old friend who I worked with for a good number of years, he was briefly my boss for a while, a man I have a lot of respect for. Very level headed a man who has seen a lot and done a lot and quite a humble chap. He also edges more than a little towards the curmudgeon end of the scale. Anyway one day we were reading an interview that had appeared somewhere from another old colleague of ours who was trying to climb the greasy pole of corporate success. In this interview he was asked who out of his past and present colleagues would he say had been "inspirational". I remember my friend just repeating with almost despairing incredulity the word "Inspirational?". He couldn't quite grasp that anyone we worked with could be inspirational in any way. It was very funny and over some years I've only had to say "Inspirational?" quietly under my breath to him for him to have a beaming smile at our private joke in whatever context that may have been.
In a world where superlatives seem to be losing their value in the currency of language daily everything now is "awesome", "amazing", "fantastic"... if you say something was "interesting" or "good" people look at you as though you aren't joining the party, you aren't on the programme. But truly I try to keep the superlative for use when applicable. My coffee this morning was "nice", it was "good" - it wasn't "awesome".
I watched a series of speakers this morning at an event I was invited to attend. One in particular was very impressive. He spoke for exactly his allotted time, 10 mins, no notes, no PowerPoint slides, no prompts - no hesitation, no noticeable errs and umms, not flustered or too fast nor too slow and stilted. What he had to say was concise but also far reaching, it was educating and thought provoking. It was "very good" and it did indeed enthuse me. None of the other speakers were bad, others were highly enthusiastic and humours, others clear and direct etc. However this one person did shine out - a very special man with a very great talent that he has clearly honed into an applied skill.
In 10 minutes I learnt a lot - and not just from what he said. Inspirational? Pretty close...