What is inspiration? It is easy to look upon inspiration as this magical gift that is given to those lucky few, but let’s break it down a little bit. Taking a step back, it becomes clear that inspiration is made up of three elements: the trigger, the understanding and the action.
The ‘trigger’ comes with all these preconceptions of that eureka! or light-bulb moment, and if you don’t get that illuminating moment then it’s just a case of ‘too bad, mate’. Having given this some thought, a single moment as the trigger only occurs in a few cases – more often than not, this ‘trigger’ accumulates over time from a hunch caused by a lingering unsolved problem and could take years to resolve.
This take on the initial stage of inspiration takes away some of that pressure to ‘find the inspiration’ – give it a minute, we are getting there! Secondly, after the idea comes to us, this needs to be consolidated and understood. It is my belief that in order to be inspired there is this awakening to new and better possibilities.
Having gained the essence of the idea, it is now time to realise how this might materialise into the real world. And finally, inspiration is not passive, it is active – we must act upon this idea or vision of ours, otherwise we are wasting it.
Who are these inspired people? After spending hours people-watching trying to gauge what makes people tick, I have come up with a few ideas as to why some experience inspiration more frequently than others and how we might be able to train ourselves to welcome its arrival more often.
The most important trait of these inspired people is their openness to new experiences, curiosity and an element of chaos. Great ideas never come from one place or solely one person, they are always (consciously or subconsciously) an accumulation of experiences, the things around us and the people we meet – naturally if we are constantly experiencing new things and meeting new people we will allow ourselves to be inspired more frequently.
Secondly, an ambition to improve one’s own work is incredibly important. By this I do not believe a competitive drive is essential; on the contrary, we should be internally not externally motivated, better our own work rather than beating others’. Furthermore, wanting others to also succeed and helping them do so increases self-esteem, optimism and a belief in our own abilities – all of which in turn allows us to better take on the challenge of handling inspiration rather than shying away from it, so let’s help each other out hey?
This one may sound a little odd so bear with me, inspired people put less effort into their work – allow me to explain. Say, for example, you were writing a poem, and you painstakingly made sure the rhythm was consistent and the grammar perfect, would that make it any more creative? Alternatively, let’s not take ourselves too seriously, relax and play, then write a poem. I would bet the latter version would be considered more creative. This is not to say we can be lazy, quite the opposite, however pro-activity and effort are not the same – get on with it, but don’t worry too much about the outcome (initially, at least!).
Why is inspiration so important? This is a speculation, however I believe goal progress and goal inspiration are intertwined – the more inspired our goals, the greater our motivation to progress towards them. Inspiration is more strongly associated with the future rather than the now, so if we all were to set ourselves inspired future goals that excited us then we would have a greater purpose and direction in the now. I mentioned before that to be inspired we must acknowledge the potential for new and better possibilities – we can solve the problems of tomorrow if we put our creative minds to work!
How to get inspiration? As much as we can’t will inspiration to arrive and it does just happen, there are things we can do to help this process along. An idea / inspiration is not one single thing, is it a connecting of what we already know and what we see all around us. In order to allow our minds to run more freely we have to expose ourselves to new things, and often – challenge ourselves to question what we know by listening to what other have to say or seeing new things.
I know I said effort isn’t that important, but it is important to prepare ourselves for when inspiration does come – what I mean by this is hone in on our skills, get great at the technical stuff and nitty gritty stuff and then when we have found our great idea we can do it justice. Equally as important to gaining inspiration is the ability to maintain it for a little while. For me, how to maintain it is very clear – gratitude. The famous quote ‘a blessing ignored becomes a curse’ seems fitting here – if we do not appreciate the idea we have, think about it with excitement and look after it in our heads it’ll soon move on to someone else who would look after it better.