By Caitlin Smith
To be a good leader, one must by visionary, focused, decisive, ethical and above all, inspired. While great leaders may possess many of these qualities, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need a little inspiration for themselves now and again, as leading others is sometimes a difficult and thankless task. Additionally, there are many out there who haven’t yet realized their true leadership potential that are just looking for the right idea or person to push them into that role. These videos are meant to do just that. They offer inspiration, guidance, laughter and a look at the things in life that are truly valuable and worth working towards.
These people can be an inspiration to everyone, leaders and followers alike.
- W Mitchell: From a motorcycle accident that burned most of his body to a plane crash that left him paralyzed, W Mitchell shares what he believes to be the most important life lessons he’s learned through what’s happened to him and how he’s chosen to live his life in response.
- Paul Potts Sings Nessun Dorma: Here you can see a real life reminder of the old adage, "don’t judge a book by its cover." While Potts may seem an unassuming individual, his voice his powerful and true, reminding us all to look deeper to see the talents that others possess.
- Randy Pausch: Last Lecture: In this lecture, Randy Pausch offers his insights into achieving your dreams and what it takes to be a good person. Sadly, he passed away in July of 2008 from pancreatic cancer, but his love of life even when he was ailing lives on in this lecture.
- Autistic Basketball Star: Jason McElwain is usually just a team assistant, but when the coach allowed him to play he had a night he would never forget.
- Patrick Henry Hughes: This young man was born without eyes and with several crippling deformities. Yet, despite his physical impediments, you’ll see in this video how he’s never let it hold him back and now plays in the U of Louisville marching band.
- Eye to Eye: Dustin Carter: A boy without arms or legs isn’t the first person you would expect to see in a wrestling match, but this young man shows how nothing is an obstacle if you’re truly determined as he earned a winning record on his high school team.
- Desmond Tutu on Leadership: This Nobel Peace Prize winner lends some insights into what he believes it means to be a great leader.
- Great Quotes from Great Leaders Movie: Here you’ll find a collection of quotes from people who have helped shape history that can act and inspiration and give you determination.
- Carly Zalenski: Think a 14-year-old can’t have a big impact on the world? This young girl raising enough money to build a school in Vietnam showing that it doesn’t matter how old you are only how much you drive you have.
Being a Parent
Being a parent means being a leader and role model 24 hours a day. These videos are all about the inspiring lengths parents will go to to ensure the happiness of their children and what you can do to be a better guide for your children as they go through life.
- A Mother’s Love: This story may seem a bit silly, but it shows that even in the depths of illness the love of a parent for a child will always take precedence.
- A Father’s Amazing Love: Father and son Dick and Rick Hoyt have competed in numerous triathlons and Ironman events together. This may not seem amazing but Rick is wheelchair bound and must be carried by his father who despite heart troubles of his own wants to make sure his son can participate in these events.
- Love vs. Fear: How do you discipline and control those around you? This video will help you understand the difference between fear and love and what each means over the long term.
- 100 Ways to Show Children You Care: If you’re looking for a way to show your children you love them and teach them how to be good people, this video is full of suggestions.
- Woman with No Arms: A birth defect that left her with no arms wasn’t going to stop Barb Guerra from having a child. Here you can see how she makes things work using her feet as a substitute for hands, showing that if there’s a will, there’s a way.
- Rick Smolan Tells the Story of a Girl: On assignment in Korea, Rick Smolan met a young girl who he would spend weeks and then months trying to get adopted by the family of his best friends. Learn about their love for the young girl and her place in their family from this video.
- Another Season: In the past, many parents with Down’s Syndrome children would have put them away, not wanting the social stigma of having an disabled child. Yet the family of Jean Stallings embraced their son and found that even things that at first seem tragic can actually be the greatest gifts.
- Derek Redmond and Dad: Desperately wanting to win a medal in the 1992 Olympics, Derek undergoes a tragic event, tearing his hamstring during the 400 meter sprint. Knowing his son and wanting to help him persevere, Derek’s father helps him cross the finish line in this touching video.
- A Father’s Heart: Here you can listen to the first part in a series where Rick Burgess speaks at his infant sons funeral, giving his spiritual take on the event.
Career and Work
If being a leader in your career or workplace is important to you, these videos on success and entrepreneurship should give you something to think about.
- Steve Jobs Commencement Speech: With advice like, "stay hungry, stay foolish," Steve Jobs provided Stanford’s class of 2005 with advice on how to persevere and make a career and a life for yourself even in the face of failure.
- Failure Nike Ad with Michael Jordan: Michael Jordan wasn’t always one of the most well-known and successful athletes of all time. This video shows how even the greats have struggled to get where they are.
- Blind Painter: If you’re being held back by doubts about your skills and abilities take a moment to watch this video. If a blind man like John Bramblitt can paint, what is there keeping you from achieving your goals?
- JK Rowling Biography: Today Rowling is one of the wealthiest women in the world but not so long ago she was struggling to get by and feed her two children. Hear her story and how she followed her dream, making one simple story a worldwide success.
- Elements of Greatness: Whether you’re an employee or a boss, this video provides some motivation to be the best you can be no matter the task.
- Motivational Business Speaker: This video shows Andy Cohen live at the World Innovation Forum, offering his advice on thinking differently and building new business strategies.
- Mindmovie for Success: Watch this short video to get inspired and learn the meaning of true success.
- Teen Millionaires: Think you’ll never make a million? These kids already have, showing that an entrepreneurial spirit and sound ideas are more important than anything else in business.
- Entrepreneurs Can Change the World: This organization wants to show you how your business, your ideas and your innovations can truly shape and change the world of tomorrow.
- Conan O’Brien’s Harvard Commencement Speech: Full of humor, this speech is not only entertaining but shows these Harvard students that success isn’t an express route but a path littered with twists, turns and dead ends.
Changing and Challenging Ourselves
Are you the person you want to be? In order to lead others you have to find confidence, resilience and wisdom in yourself. These videos can help point the way.
- Why Are We Happy?: What is it truly makes us happy? Author Dan Gilbert counters common ideas that getting what you want is what makes you happy, from a biological standpoint.
- Living Luminaries: The Serious Business of Happiness: The individuals in this series are happy, and you can learn about their secrets to attaining contentment here.
- Advice to Live By: This video commencement by Baz Luhrman is humorous but also truly inspiring. You’ll get tips on living life and enjoying it while you do.
- Judy Pickett Breast Cancer Survivor: Learn how this woman picked herself up and got right back to living after fighting breast cancer. If she can do it and help lead others through the process as well, so can you.
- Who I Am Makes a Difference: This video chronicles a project the focused on giving recognition for people who were inspiring or influential, even in small ways. You’ll gain some valuable insights into what you do as a person and as a leader that truly makes a difference.
- Rules for Having and Extraordinary Life: Don’t accept being ordinary from yourself. These tips will help get you on the path to standing out and getting others to follow.
- Why Aren’t We All Good Samaritans?: What makes one person stop and help while another simply walks past? This talk from Daniel Goleman examines the inner workings of good samaritanism.
- Mindful Meditation: This Google talk by Jon Kabat-Zinn explores issues of inner peace, happiness and meditation.
- Dare Change: This advertisement isn’t just about selling you a product but helping you gain the confidence to face all the little scary things in your life and be a more fearless leader.
- Touching Them All: Would you help a hurt member of the opposite team round the bases even if it meant losing the game? This team did, and this video asks you to consider what matters most to you in your actions.
- Think Different: This Apple commercial celebrates those who think outside of the box.
- A Thousand Words: This beautiful short film asks viewers to make the most of all the opportunities that exist in everyday life. Who knows, one of those could lead to the success and change you were hoping for.
Changing the World
Is it really possible for one person to change the world? Is the world really the way we think it is? These videos will answer these questions and raise many more while providing insights into the lives of people who are working towards building a better tomorrow.
- Challenge Day: Challenge Day is a one-day program offered in hundreds of high schools and junior highs every year which opens students to seeing their common humanity and bringing them together. Learn more about the program here.
- First Sight: Check out this video to learn how to redefine how you act and see others in the world.
- Hans Rosling and The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen: Here you’ll learn some interesting facts about the developing world and gain a better understanding of what in the world truly needs changing.
- Steven Pinker and the Myth of Violence: Though we may not believe it, Steven Pinker argues that violence has no increased in the modern era, only the reporting of it has. In reality, he explains, we are living in one of the most peaceful times in human history.
- Valentino Achak Deng Foundation: A victim of the decades of war and violence in Sudan, Valentino has returned to his native country to build schools, help communities and give young people a chance to succeed.
- Linus Torvalds on Linux: This video shows what it means to think outside of the box. As one of the leading open source softwares in the world, Linux has helped change the concept of operating systems and brought opportunities to those many around the world.
- Marshall Rosenberg on Nonviolent Communication: What is it that makes some people relish in hurting others? This video by author Marshall Rosenberg explores how to move towards more nonviolent communication and the reasons it makes sense to some but not to others.
- Daniel Ellsberg: Authors@Google: While he had an illustrious career earlier in life, Ellsberg is primarily known for being the motivational force behind the release of the Pentagon Papers, detailing the decisions of the Vietnam War. His dedication to truth got him in hot water as you’ll learn about in this video.
- Barack Obama: Yes We Can: Credited by many as one of the speeches that won him the election, Barack Obama’s words not only inspired a nation but brought him the honor of being the first African-American president only 50 years after basic civil rights were hotly contested.
- Inspiring Speeches of the 20th Century: Check out this video to hear some quotes from the best and brightest thinkers, politicians and leaders from around the world who made the world what it is today.
Saving the Planet
If you’d like to lead people towards being greener and taking care of the planet, give these videos a viewing to gain some advice, information and inspiration from those who are fighting to preserve ecosystems, species and resources.
- Picturing Excess: The images presented by this artist will stagger you in the amount of waste produced by people everyday.
- How to Regrow a Rainforest: Biologist Willie Smits explains in this video how it may be possible to regrow rainforests and restore the ecosystem in places like Borneo.
- Hero of the Congo Forest: Botanist Corneille Ewango talks about his efforts to protect the forests of the Congo from poachers, miners, and civil war.
- Al Gore on Averting Climate Crisis: Nobel Prize winner Al Gore explains some ways in which each of use can help in averting climate change.
- Jamais Cascio on tools for a better world: Who doesn’t want a better world? But how do we go about getting it? Jamais Cascio explains some ways that we can start working towards this goal.
- Kamal Meattle on how to grow fresh air: Fresh air, quite literally, grows on trees. Kamal Meattle explains in this video how we can harness the power of these plants and bring fresh air into indoor spaces.
- Jane Goodall: What Separates Us: Many people are familiar with Jane Goodall and her work with the Chimpanzees of Africa. This video explains what separates humans from the other apes. Her answer: not as much as we’d like to think.
- Saving Life on Earth: As E.O. Wilson accepts his TED prize, he urges listeners to catalogue and record as much of Earth’s life as possible.
- Praising Slowness: Modernity puts a high value on speed, costing lots of resources, energy and quality of life. Carl Honore asks us to slow down and enjoy the world around us.
Teachers and educators have a lot of power to shape the minds of the leaders of tomorrow. These videos will show how to be a great inspiration for your students, and what education can mean to those who have little else but their minds with which to build a future.
- Dave Eggers: Once Upon a School: With the success of his 826 Valencia tutoring center, Dave Eggers has inspired many to embrace creative teaching and helping students.
- Music and Life: There are many faults with the education system today. Using music as a metaphor, this video encourages educators and leaders alike to think outside of the box.
- Teachers Make a Difference: Learn how a teacher took small steps that made a huge difference in a child’s life.
- Teachers Are Like Mirrors: Teachers do more than just provide students with lessons about reading, writing and math. They also teach them how to treat others and how to see themselves.
- What Teachers Make: This poem by Tyler Mali explores some of the many ways teachers can change the lives of their students.
- You Never Gave Up On Me: Reading is something that many children and adults alike struggle with. This video tells the story of a teacher who stuck it out with a student trying to learn.
- Thank You, Teacher: Teachers aren’t always recognized for the work that they do, and this video explores the difference a simply thank you can make.
- The Miracle Workers: This Tyler Mali poem was written to help boost morale and drive in teachers that sometimes have it tough.
- Make a Difference: Here you’ll find a touching story, albeit fictional, of a young Teddy Stallard and the difference his teacher made in his life.
- Teachers Who Make a Difference: Here you can watch a series of videos that tell the stories of teachers from all over the nation who have truly made a difference in their students’ lives.
- The Importance of Teachers Who Care:
Life and leadership are full of challenges. These videos will inspire you to take adversity head on, keep fighting and never give up until you achieve your goals.
- Keys to Life: Running and Reading: Will Smith shares what he thinks are the elements to success in any person’s life: reading and running.
- Baboon Escapes Death: It doesn’t seem likely that a young baboon would escape from the jaws of a crocodile unscathed, but that’s just what this video documents.
- One Red Paperclip: Beginning with a single paperclip, Kyle MacDonald traded his way to a new home in this inspiring video, showing you how it is possible to make something out of nothing.
- Famous Failures: Don’t let your failures break your spirit as a leader. This video will show you some of the greatest leaders and thinkers who failed numerous times before succeeding.
- Stroke of Insight: Jill Bolte Taylor may appear fine today, but a stroke hit this brain researcher taking away her ability to talk, walk and do the work she spent her life doing. This talk details her eight-year journey to recovery.
- Embracing Adversity: This lecture by Josh Hinds explains how life’s greatest challenges can be its most rewarding moments.
- On Time: Created in only a day, this video explores seeing tough circumstances through, they may not always be what you think.
- Seeing with Sound: After losing his eyes to cancer as a young child, Ben Underwood didn’t give up. Instead, he learned to see using echolocation.
- Charlie Plumb: Captain Charlie Plumb spent 2,103 days in a Vietnamese POW camp. Here you can hear his story about what it took to survive and become a leader and inspiration within the camp.
- Jamie’s Recovery: Jamie Gillentine dove headfirst into the ocean in 2007, unaware that just below the surface was a sandbar, shattering vertebrae and damaging his spinal cord and causing him to lose feeling and movement in much of his upper body. This video documents his long and seemingly impossible recovery.
Just for Fun
Who says inspirational videos can’t be funny or even irreverent? These videos will make you smile and cry at the same time with the lessons they share.
- Kiwi: This animated kiwi isn’t just cute, he’s determined as well.
- Free Hugs Campaign: What would you do if someone offered you a free hug? This video shows how a tiny gesture just might make someone’s day.
- Lead India: Sometimes it only takes one person to take a stand to get others to follow along. Here you’ll see a great video giving you some insights on how to be that person.
- Christian the Lion: When he got too big for his owners to keep, Christian the lion was released into the wild. See the touching reunion between the now wild lion and his former caretakers in this video.
- Anthem Singer Gets Help: What happens when an autistic anthem singer can’t stop laughing when singing in front of a crowd of thousands? Your heart will be warmed by the answer from this video.
- Organized Laughter Yoga: Help your mental health and well being along with this video showing how laughter yoga can make your life a little happier.
- Where the Hell is Matt?: Want to be the kind of person who inspires others to take a leap, to dance to be great? Matt does this on a small scale, all around the world, getting people of all ages, genders and ethnicities to dance with him.
- Enlighten Up: This hand puppet offers some advice, most of it humorous, on finding inner peace and living as one with the world.
- The Machine is Us/Using Us: Understand the role technology plays in our world better through this video. You may get a few ideas on how you can use it to lead or develop better forms of communication.
- I Love the World: This short Discovery Channel commercial is cute and offers a love of the world, its animals and its people that is inspiring.
Inspiration for being a great leader doesn’t just have to come from documentary sources, it can come from great cinematic experiences as well. Check out these movie clips for great speeches, actions and ideas that will help inspire you to be a better leader and a stronger person.
- Sean Astin in Rudy: With everything against him, this clip shows the young Rudy finally succeeding.
- Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa: Check out this inspirational encounter between father and son in the latest edition of the Rocky series.
- Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday: This clip shows the half-time speech Al Pacino’s character gives to inspire this football team to persevere.
- Mel Gibson in Braveheart: The men in this movie are facing seemingly insurmountable odds, but this speech is meant to inspire them to victory.
- Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society: What does carpe diem mean to you? This clip from the movie explores it through poetry.
- Anthony Hopkins in the World’s Fastest Indian: An old man from New Zealand is hardly a prime candidate for riding one of the fastest motorcycles of its kind in the world. This clip is all about following your dreams and making them a reality, no matter who stands in your way.
- Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happyness: If you haven’t seen this movie, it may be a great way to spend a few hours getting inspired. This trailer will show you the trials of one man trying to find his way in the world.
- 40 Inspirational Speeches in Two Minutes: If you don’t have time to watch a bunch of longer clips, this short clip will sum up all the best movie moments into one, two-minute segment.