Inspiration may only be 1 percent of innovation, as variations of the maxim attributed to Thomas Edison suggest, but a smidgen of it certainly goes a mighty long way.
Inspiration boosts our motivation and gratitude. It helps us get through tough times, create new ideas and solve difficult problems. It's almost as if inspiration has a life of its own, lifting us up on invisible wings and blowing fresh air into our bodies and very souls.
Indeed. The word itself is derived from the Latin verb inspirare, which literally means to breathe into. Inspiration's spontaneous and inward nature led our ancient ancestors to conclude it was a gift from the gods and goddesses. Writers, artists and other creatives have reinforced the notion that the muses make visits to us mere mortals.
"The mystical connotations of the concept
inspiration to the realms of divinity through the ages."
However, in recent years, we find nueroscientists exploring inpsiration's elusive waters. Psychologists Todd M. Thrash and Andrew Elliot, who developed an Inspiration Scale, studied it as a psychological trait.
Their findings affirmed what to many of us may seem obvious: Inspiration is more about our receptivity to the flow of certain experiences swirling around us than to our own conscientiousness.
The latter is a psychcological trait associated with our ability to set goals and to see them through. This means conscientious people are generally the responsible types, who are able to manage their impulses and put in the sweat equity needed to finish the job. The role of stick-to-itness in success, and innovation, speaks for itself.
Scientists and artists alike will tell you breakthroughs and masterpieces are the result of hard work. Still, inspiration provides the surges of creativity and motivation along the way.
Does all of this mean we have to wait for the muses to knock at our front doors to get going? The answer is abolutely not. You can intentionally draw from the supplies abundantly available in life's flow. Here's the thinng though: You have to know where to look for it. Inspiration is often hidden in unlikely places.
In the grand paradox of living, very often our own disappointments and pain are also the gateway to our greatest inspiration. What hurdles did you overcome in the past that can be used to remind you of your reslience and moxy in the present?
Personally, I never cease to be amazed by people who struggle each day without the basic necessities, yet demonstrate the highest forms of human grace and dignity. When I look in the faces of young children, my heart quickens as their hopeful, wondering eyes remind me their future is in our hands.
People with different physical impairments contiuously show us the body's capacity to heighten senses. When we lose access to one solution, we are creatively able to find another. If we're open, we can find the fingerprints of Mother Nature's inspiration is everywhere. The only requirement is that we be receptive.
Here are five questions to help as you reflect on how to create more inspiration in your life and in your work:
1. What role does inspiration play in your life?
2. What inspires you?
3. Where can you find inspiration for yourself each day?
4. How do conversations with others help you come up with new ideas? Solve problems?
5. What are the ways you try to inspire others?