I’ve heard co-workers mention on countless occasions, “I just need to be inspired.” Candidly, that sentiment has always frustrated me a little. Why? While arguably we could all use some inspiration, do we really expect to miraculously be inspired...or rather, is this something we are actually in control of to make happen for ourselves?
It’s easy to go through the world hoping things happen for us by some divine miracle. And yet, how often does that really happen? Perhaps it’s a harsh view of the world, but at the end of the day, I believe if you are passively hoping to achieve your goals, your chances of success are pretty limited.
So, how does one find inspiration proactively? I spent some time pondering that this weekend, as my daughters and I had this same discussion. This is how we summed it up...
I work with a guy who watches the same motivational Tom Brady video every morning. For him, it serves to inspire him to give it his absolute best, every single day. I choose to look at my schedule every morning and start the day by determining which thing I will accomplish that day that will add the most impact.
Whether it’s starting your day by skimming through your favorite blog or listening to a podcast on the train to work, choose something that will speak to your core. While this activity can be quick in the process (e.g. no more than a few minutes), select something that puts you in a great mindset to tackle the day.
As I wrote about last week, the space we work in is a physical manifestation of our culture. Individually, it speaks to our own unique approaches to work, and how we feel most productive. I know, for example, I don’t do very well sitting at a desk all day. And yet, I’ve got a ton to do. My revised approach? I used to sit on the lobby couch every morning for an hour or so. I could be mobile, unplugged, and still rip through email and other tasks in a comfortable environment. However, more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to see many faces walking by on their way to grab a morning coffee. As a result, it allowed me to catch up with a variety of people I wouldn’t normally see. These conversations ended up sparking ideas, learning of new wins, etc. In other words, that hour inspired me and set the tone for the day.
For others, it’s about ensuring they have a tidy space, pictures of their friends and family, or killer office supplies and technology to aid them in getting motivated. Whatever your thing is, incorporate it into your day.
It’s incredible the difference of people we surround ourselves with when it comes to inspiring us. They can be friends, family, or colleagues; they can be news reporters or civic leaders.
The point is, open your mind to actively listening to diverging points of view. While you may not agree with a particular political perspective, it’s important to pay attention. You may find your response to it inspires a new way of looking at the situation or motivates you to take action on something you truly believe in. Personally, one of the things I truly value in my career has been the ability to curate some truly different types of people in my network. I may not want to hang out with them on a daily basis, but they always inspire me to expand my thinking. When I partner those perspectives with inspiration and insights from my trusted few go to people, I’m ready to take on the world.
Don’t know who those people are for you? Start with a list of people you admire. If you can’t build a relationship with them IRL (e.g. I really admire Richard Branson, but don’t think I’m likely going to have lunch with him anytime soon), see if they have videos of speaking events they may have done, podcast interviews, etc. These people don’t have to be world-renowned - sometimes the most inspiring ones can be found by asking a friend who they know who does something you are interested in learning more about. Feeling shy? The Internet is a pretty great place. Search videos, TED Talks, LinkedIn influencers, etc. It’s out there; you just have to look for it!
Last week I went to a conference and heard the Executive Creative Director and Co-Founder of Refinery 29, Piera Gelardi speak. Quirky and brilliant, she talked about the concept of being ridiculous sparks some of her teams best ideas.
When you let your guard down and embrace your comedic side, it’s quite amazing what ideas it can inspire. Besides, whose day isn’t made better with a good laugh?
We all have different, unique things that inspire us. The trick is, you have to identify those things for yourself, and then ensure you are actively weaving them into your life. I covet my drive to work in the morning. Why? To me, it represents a fresh start. I erase the thoughts of yesterday, and just consider what’s possible for today. That, driving really fast, “Lithium” blasting, with the top down on my car doesn’t hurt either.
How do you find YOUR inspiration? Challenge for the day: if you are someone hoping inspiration will just come to you, stop yourself in your tracks and try a new approach. There is inspiration all around us. You just need to determine how to pursue yours.