Inspiration actually emerges from the soil of action: perspiration is just the water that nourishes it.
This quote from August Turak in his article, 3 Keys to Getting and Staying Inspired, may at first seem counterintuitive. People often think that inspiration is what propels action; not the other way around. Not so, says Turak, a Forbes contributer, speaker, and marketing consultant. If inspiration is what you're seeking, it's a mistake to just sit around and wait for it to strike.
As an example, Turak writes, "... very few of us drag ourselves off the couch and off to the gym from inspiration. Instead it is that dissatisfaction dished out by that vaguely familiar reflection in the full length mirror that usually does the trick. Early on our gym experience is anything but inspirational as we battle sore muscles, lethargy, and our tendency to rationalize. But then one day someone comments on our progress, we are flooded with inspiration, and we redouble our efforts. Little by little this self-reinforcing virtuous spiral of action leading to inspiration which in turn produces more action repeats itself until, mirabile dictu, we actually start looking forward to going to the gym."
So if you're looking for a little inspiration, here are the three best ways to find it.
Do something. Move. Act. React. But don't sit still, thinking that the inspiration will come. If your goal is to write a book, start writing. If it's to get fit, start working out. Although inspiration does occasionally fall from the sky and into our head, Turak notes, "Inspiration that doesn't result from action quickly fades, and that is why inspirational speeches and seminars are so often belittled as a waste of money."
2. Start Small
In today's world, most people have become accustomed to getting what want when they want it. When I was in graduate school and needed to write a paper, I had to go to the library (actually get up, get out, and drive to that physical place called the library), search for relevant articles and research, make copies of what I needed, and write my paper. Today, within seconds, I can find hundreds of articles on point without ever leaving my chair. Turak says that this cultural expectation of immediate gratification is, in part, what leads us to set goals that are too high, and therefore are doomed to fail. Instead, he says, we need to take small steps toward an ultimate goal.
Using himself as an example, Turak said he used to be late for everything until his mentor, Lou Mobley, founder of the IBM Executive School, suggested that he commit to being on time for one appointment each day. Little by little, his timeliness inspired him to be on time more often, and he's now been habitually early for over thirty years.
3. Work with Others
It's much easier to get and stay inspired when you're working with others who have similar goals, or someone who at least is motivated to keep you on the right track. Working with others can also help you enjoy the experience more than going it alone. It's hard for most people to stay motivated for long periods of time all on their own. If you can do it, that's great. But why not increase your odds for long-term success by hooking up with someone who is working toward a similar goal and who can reignite the fire when your flame starts to die down?
Turak closes by saying, "Genius, they say, is 80% perspiration and 20% inspiration. While I like this aphorism, I would take it a step further. Perspiration and inspiration may seem like two distinct elements coexisting in the character of genius. But as counter-intuitive as it may sound, inspiration actually emerges from the soil of action: perspiration is just the water that nourishes it."
For more inspiring words, see Inspiring Quotes from Inspirational Figures.
© 2012 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved
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Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout
(Prometheus Books, 2011).