In fact it’s defined as a feeling of enthusiasm or excitement, or someone/something that gives you ideas for doing something, or motivates you to do something.
So when we hear that inspirational speech, read that inspirational book, watch that inspirational performance, listen to that inspirational music, it resonates, and it moves us.
But often, it doesn’t move us very far…as in it doesn’t actually inspire us enough to do the thing and create something ourselves. We enjoy it, then move on.
And that’s ok. On one level it’s enough just to appreciate the thing for what it is.
But how often have you thought to yourself “I wish I had learned to…” or “I wish I could…”
And then we spend a good deal of our lives plugging away at things which DON’T inspire us.
Somewhere along the line we get taught that you don’t get anywhere in the world by doing what you love. As a result, we don’t give ourselves permission to spend much time in that zone where inspiration is turned into something more lasting, impactful, or inspirational in its own right.
In other words, people don’t make the transition from consuming to creating anywhere near enough to derive the full joy and satisfaction from their pursuits.
Because of this, they miss out on the personal growth gains such as confidence, resilience, and higher self-image.
I used to have these conversations a lot with my dance students, and we did a lot of work on understanding how to bridge the gap between merely copying and becoming a creator in their own right, being able to improvise freely and express the music.
Let’s consider the other meaning of the word “inspiration”.
It means the act of breathing in air.
Pretty topical subject right now.
Inspiration whichever way you look at it is a vital life force.
The oxygen we take in, when combined with glucose, produces a chemical reaction which produces water, carbon dioxide and energy.
So the inspiration isn’t enough on its own. Other substances have to be present, and a transformation takes place inside our cells which then gives us fuel for movement and life.
In the same way, just taking in the stimulus, or having the good idea isn’t the end of the story. There’s a process involved.
This is how I described it to my Salsa dance students, but the same format can be applied to anything you want to create or take action on:
Inspiration – you have to be emotionally moved. If you can’t connect emotion to the process, it’s unlikely you will be internally motivated enough to do the work involved.
Immersion – you have to spend time seeing, feeling, listening, absorbing whatever it is you want to learn. This can be on a subconscious level – playing music in the background, or watching someone else’s performance purely for pleasure.
Insight – you need to gain knowledge and understanding on a more conscious level.
Interpretation – this happens as you start to inject your own style, ideas and choices into the mix.
Innovation – When you start to play and experiment, trying new ideas. From here, you are able to inspire others.
Improvisation – you are able to apply the knowledge and engage spontaneously and without conscious thought.
So using inspiration fully is not only taking in, it’s adding something, transforming it, and creating something new – something which hasn’t existed before.
So rather than being envious of the person who always seems to have all those wacky ideas that seem to just work, or the person who is able to master new skills easily, or despondent that you didn’t get started sooner, start to focus on where your inspiration is, and how you are going to use that inspiration to create transformation for yourself and others.