Blue Origin’s reusable rocket, the New Shepherd.

Video is a unique medium for inspiration; there’s something about watching things happen (literally) that motivates and moves us like nothing else.

2015 was a pivotal and eventful year in many ways: new technology butting heads with tradition, social media amplifying previously marginalized voices, and innovators and change-makers in tech, the arts, and beyond sharing their visions of the future.

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This year, I’ve selected eight videos that not only sum up what kind of year 2015 was, but that will also jumpstart your drive to make 2016 the best year yet for both you and your business.

Don’t forget to check out last year’s list as well when we took a look at inspiring videos from outer space to the United Nations.

1. Star Wars returned to the big screen and inspired us all once again.

I think the western world heaved a collective sigh of relief after seeing that the latest Star Wars movie not only wasn’t ruinous for the series, but was, in fact, really good.

There is something inspiring for everyone who has ever worked on a creative project in the fact that a classic endeavor could pick up where it left off, reinvent itself, and become the highest-grossing movie of all time in North America.

The fact that it broke so many worn-out Hollywood rules, starring a woman and a man of color in the leading roles, and featuring leads of the earlier films Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher having both aged naturally (albeit with a little trussing up), just makes it that much better.

The future is now, it seems to say, and there are good movies here.

2 and 3. TED speakers Jon Ronson and Monica Lewinsky examine shame and redemption in the age of the social media take-down.

Shame might sound like the total opposite of an inspiring topic on its face, but hear me out.

So many of us have various things we feel ashamed about that hold us back, or maybe we make a public misstep, get humiliated on social media and, especially if the reputation of our business is at stake, have no clue how to recover.

Is there anyone that would know more about that than Monica Lewinsky?

Researcher, Jon Ronson, has written a book on the cultural phenomenon of someone’s life being essentially ruined (job loss, decimated credibility, and public reputation) by sending out an offensive tweet.

If you’ve ever been embarrassed (basically, if you’re human), you’ll walk away from these TED talks feeling better informed and inspired to cut yourself and others some much-needed slack.

Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk, “The Price of Shame”:

Jon Ronson’s TED talk, “What Happens When Online Shaming Spirals Out of Control”:

4. Viola Davis accepts her Emmy and delivers a powerful message.

Actress Viola Davis is a force of nature, as her performance in the hit show “How to Get Away With Murder” shows, and when presented with a remarkable opportunity for leadership while accepting the award for best actress at the Emmy awards as the first black woman to ever do so, she certainly did not disappoint.

Invoking the words of Harriet Tubman, a trailblazer and beloved historical figure, Davis respectfully thanked her colleagues in the industry while simultaneously standing up for positive change in her field.

She took her moment to acknowledge the struggle and the progress of women of color in the media, and called for more opportunities and representation. It would almost be impossible not to be inspired by the energy radiating from her as she speaks. 

5. Hozier displays the humility and gratitude that successful people should cultivate.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, a successful Irish musician, and his band, know the meaning of hard work and the hustle.

On their last tour, they hustled; they played so many shows and traveled so much, one report calculated they actually could have traveled two-thirds of the way to the moon.

One of the results of this dedication is that Hozier’s song “Take Me to Church” has risen to incredible popularity. As we see in this heartwarming clip, a French church choir loved it so much they learned it themselves, purchased tickets to a Paris show, and showed up to share it with him.

His genuine surprise, credit to their talent, and gratitude at having become so influential is something we could all take note from.

6. Peter Dinklage gives a powerful commencement speech at Bennington College.

This video might be a bit of a throwback, but I included it because I think it strikes just the right kind of note for the beginning of a year, especially for entrepreneurial types.

There are many people who don’t start a business until they’ve tried a lot of other paths, and at some point they realize they simply have to pursue their true passion.

Actor Peter Dinklage has a condition called achondroplasia, which causes the bones in his arms and legs to be much shorter than average (the rest of his body is the same as everyone else’s). As you can imagine, this condition could have been a career-dampening hurdle to someone who didn’t have his drive and gumption.

In this speech to Bennington College (his undergraduate Alma Mater), Dinklage admits that he didn’t find that drive until a little later in life, and offers this poignant advice:

“I waited a long time on the world before I gave myself permission to fail. Please, don’t even bother asking. Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it.”

7. Bree Newsome showed us what it looks like when you don’t ask for permission.

Bree Newsome shocked people and got accolades from around the country, including the likes of Hillary Clinton, when she climbed a flagpole and took down the confederate flag on South Carolina’s state capitol grounds.

While this was definitely a bold move (she did get arrested for the act), it was also a popular one and certainly a brave one, and her position was eventually taken by the legislature shortly thereafter; the flag no longer flies there.

Talk about taking a risk.

8. Space got a little greener, and private space travel came closer to being a reality.

Something that we might not consider when thinking about space exploration is the potential waste.

Rocket science is, well, rocket science—it seems difficult enough to make space trips successful without throwing concerns about wastefulness, longevity of the hardware, or environmental impact into the mix.

That’s why it’s so great that Jeff Bezos’s company, Blue Origin, went the extra mile and designed a completely reusable rocket. Not only does this pave the way for the future of private space travel (something that certainly wouldn’t be cost effective if you had to build a new rocket each time), it’s definitely a challenge to any tech company that is struggling to be more sustainable.

If they can do it, it’s game on for the rest of us.

What do you find inspiring? Share it with us in the comments! 

AvatarAngelique O'Rourke

Artistic + intellectual pursuits. Social justice. Actress. Model. Musician. Eugene // Portland.