When you get asked the question ‘Who inspires you?’, what names spring to mind? Is it someone close to you, someone famous, or a person from history?
When we are inspired, we are stimulated to do or feel something. To think or act in a certain way.
It can be great to draw inspiration from others as it can result in you trying and learning new things.
However, rather than wait for external sources to inspire you, what would you need to do differently for your greatest sources of inspiration to come from within?
Let’s dig a bit deeper.
When you rely on external factors to inspire you, you are waiting for another person to act, and then in turn for that action to motive you to act. By doing this you are ultimately letting another person’s actions impact what you do and don’t do.
As well, if you are always looking for others to inspire you, there is the danger that this inspiration is based on comparison. You’re inspired to act, because you want to be like someone else, have the success they have and so on. Sadly, that type of comparison game never ends well.
This doesn’t mean you never draw inspiration from what’s around you; we are often inspired by nature, works of art and music for example. Rather, it’s about recognising the limitations that exist from always relying on external sources and seeking time for the reflection and space to find internal inspiration.
Researcher, Joel Chan from the University of Pittsburgh, examined where we draw our best ideas from.
He explained that cognitive scientists have discovered that people build new ideas based on prior knowledge and experience, with these prior experiences serving as sources of inspiration. Although he noted other research which found there is a downside because “prior knowledge can make it difficult to think of alternative approaches”.
Through his research he found that the best ideas are those that “…are more likely to come from relying on a preponderance of nearer rather than farther sources”. What he means by that is the best ideas are drawn from sources and ideas that are structurally similar and therefore often already close to hand.
For me, the best ideas and inspiration comes in the quiet moments and times of contemplation. That may be after meditation; in the shower; in the middle of the night; or when going for a walk.
It is rarely in the moments when you are frantic, crazy busy and rushing. In that state, you drown out potential internal inspiration because there is too much noise and no cognitive space for the brain to process.
It’s important therefore to choose to create the conscious space for reflection and ultimately inspiration.
For that to happen you just need to decide to make the time, and as author, Napoleon Hill, said “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”
Getting you ready for tomorrow, today®.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate Your Career’. For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.