How often are you truly inspired? What inspires you? Who in your life has sparked your flames and have inspired you to action?
Inspiration can be elusive and hard to explain and is often overlooked in business because it is hard to measure and at times define. The power of inspiration has move humanity forward since its earliest time and in the business world, inspiration has been the germination of advances which have changed lives.
Granted not every inspiration result in a positive outcome and just because you have a positive reaction to someone or something, doesn’t mean you are inspired to act. True, deep and powerful inspiration often only visit some of us once in a lifetime. What if you could get inspired more often? What if you could use the emotions and reactions stirred by the twinge of inspiration every day? Would you achieve more? Would you be more successful?
Scott Kaufman wrote “Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities” (Harvard Business Review, 2011). He reminds us that it doesn’t have to be a huge revelation that moves us, but instead finding inspiration in the small moments will allow us to benefit from the physical and mental manifestations of being inspired.
Inspiration often brings clarity and affirmation. With this new clearness can allow you to see solutions and alternatives you may not have considered before. Further, inspiration can bring confirmation that you are on the right tract. If we could have more inspirational moments in our work life, you could be more effective and efficient. But many believe that inspiration must be somewhat divine and that it isn’t an ordinary moment.
If inspiration however could be divined from seemingly commonplace experiences or interactions the sense of purpose could be heightened. Also consider that inspiration becomes even more powerful when we act upon it. If we can find inspiration or feel inspired more often, we could be more satisfied and more successful.
In the Kaufman’s article in the Harvard Business Review identifies qualities of people who experience inspiration more freely. Kaufman says those characteristics are: (https://hbr.org/2011/11/why-inspiration-matters)
- Focused on mastery of their work
- Less competitive
- More intrinsically motivated and less extrinsically motivated
- Focused on their psychological well being
- Work actively on their self-esteem, optimism, & creativity
If you can then tap into some of these characteristics it logically it follows that you can tap into inspiration more readily and achieve more. Kaufman also suggests “…people who were generally more inspired in their daily lives also tended to set inspired goals, which were then more likely to be successfully attained” (Harvard Business Review, 2011). Thus, if you can access inspiration more often, you are more likely to achieve desired outcomes and over come the obstacles in your way. The leadership you demonstrate can also help to inspire others.
In “Changing Roles: Leadership in the 21st Century by Gregory Dess and Joseph Picken noted,” our competitive global economy requires leaders to shift their focus from efficient management to effective utilization of a company’s diversity of resources”. Leaders must be a conduit and a source of inspiration for their employees to keep peak performance and creativity flowing in their organization.
Dess and Picken, identify five ways leader can further foster an inspirational workplace.
- Have a strong strategic vision
- Empowering employees at all levels
- Accumulate and share internal knowledge
- Gather and integrate external information
- Challenging the status quo and enabling creativity
For many however inspiration seems intangible and illusive. David Brooks wrote in the New York Times in 2016 “moments of inspiration don’t quite make sense by normal logic. They feel transcendent, uncontrollable and irresistible. When one is inspired, time disappears or alters its pace. The senses are amplified. There may be goose bumps or shivers down the spine, or a sense of being overawed by some beauty.”
If we believe that we need some sort of “supernatural” moment to achieve inspiration we may be left waiting and wanting. Brook prescribes to the feeling most of may have that “Inspiration is not permanent and solid. It’s powerful but ephemeral, which is why so many people compare it to a gust of wind”. If this is true and inspiration is fleeting and brief, we may never have put a man on the moon.
Conversely, if we can harness the energy boost, the motivational push we feel at the moment of inspiration we can use it to drive work, projects and activities every day. To build an inspiration network, here are some activities to adopt.
- Read more
- Find a mentor
- Join a group
- Take a class
- Listen to Ted Talks
- Try a new hobby or leisure activity
- Get involved in a community event or movement
While inspiration may happen spontaneously and be unpredictable, surrounding yourself with more sources of connection and information can help you tap into it. The Harvard Business Review says “inspiration can be activated, captured, and manipulated, and it has a major effect on important life outcomes.” How will you channel inspiration to move yourself and your business forward?