Where Does Inspiration Come From?

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Inspiration is a lot like motivation – we all have it, can you really share it? What’s the source of inspiration anyway – and how do I know that what inspires me is the same thing that inspires you?

Motivation and inspiration are nebulous terms, without shape or substance. Yet, we know that these ideas are vital to leadership, management and company culture.

We understand inspiration when we see it…or, do we?

Like all emotional states, “motivation” and “inspiration” are best understood through action.

Defining the Term, “Inspiration

Inspiration means the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially something creative. Inspiration can also mean a sudden brilliant, creative or timely idea.


“If you want to understand inspiration, it’s going to take some doing.”

– from Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling by Dr. Wayne Dyer[/box]

Inspiration leads to action; inspiring your listener takes your message out of the commonplace and into the rare. While “what you say” is very important, what your listener does is most important of all.

What Dr. Dyer says is true – inspiration requires some doing. Your ability to inspire is not based on what you say during your pitch, but what the listener does after your pitch is done.

If a crying woman just keyed someone’s car, we might comment that she is motivated by jealousy and/or anger – but, can we be sure it’s not something else? When someone is laughing at the end of the movie, or getting up at 4:30 am to go fishing, we might have a pretty good idea of what inspires them – but still, the reasons can’t be known with exact certainty. Inspiration is murky, but actions are crystal clear.

If you wish to inspire, you have to concentrate on the concrete. After all, hope is not a strategy. Inspiration is often a by-product, or pathway, to the action you desire. So, in order to zoom in on something real and tangible:

Consider: action is the definition and evidence of true inspiration

Actions trump salesmanship in every elevator pitch – in every conversation. While style matters, it’s the action that you inspire that can be seen, felt, and measured. After you’ve captured your audience’s attention, you talk about what you’ve done, and what you’re doing, in the context of “why” and “because”, so that you establish relevance.

Once you’ve gotten past “So what?” the next question is, “Now what?”

Your audience wants to know:

“What are you going to do next?”

Or, if you really want to inspire,

“What are we going to do together?”

Photo courtesy of Martha~Earthlight. Used under creative commons; some rights reserved.

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