What does being inspired actually feel like?

Can we inspire others by knowing what inspires us and replicating it for them?

These are some of the questions that we, at InspireCorps, hope to answer as we embark on our quest to understand inspiration. We three founders (Jen Grace Baron, Allison Holzer, and Sandra Spataro) launched our firm in 2012 with the dream of helping individuals, teams, and organizations flourish. From the beginning, we realized the important role inspiration plays in leaders, teams, and organizations finding this success.

While we have a gut intuition about what inspiration feels like, we have found it inexplicably hard to pin down a firm definition for it and a clear articulation of how (and why) it works. What we know and can state emphatically is that a state of inspiration is the antidote to the state of survival many seem to be trapped in these days. When clients approach us in a state of survival, just getting through the day, we know that inspiration fuels better collaboration, better performance, and greater passion in the work. Herein lines the rub for us: we know inspiration matters greatly, and yet an exact definition and understanding of how if works eludes us.

A while ago, we checked the dictionary for the official definition and origin of the word; we also looked at the surprisingly little research we could find on the topic. None of what we found described exactly what we have been seeing in our clients who are inspired over the last several years. So, we found our own inspiration to begin a quest to define and understand how inspiration works.

We started with our own working definition based on our observations of clients over the last several years: Inspiration is both a spark and a flame.

As a spark, it feels like an epiphany, an “a-ha!,” or an expansive moment of insight – short-lived, bright, and powerful. As a flame, when we keep the spark alive over a period of time, we experience inspiration as ongoing creativity, engagement, and daily progress in our work.

We see clients experiencing and benefiting from both types of inspiration in different ways. When clients lack one or both forms of inspiration, they often feel in a state of survival.

Next, we embarked on interviewing individuals across all industries and walks of life to refine, overturn, expand upon, and shed light on our working definition of inspiration. Over the last several months, we have interviewed several professionals and leaders with open-ended questions and surveys. We hope to pin down more concrete answers to questions like the ones we opened with and more, like: Does an inspiration formula exist, or do we inspire others and feel inspired in different ways at different times? Our plan is to aggregate information from all of our interviews and surveys and look for consistent themes that may offer new insights.

In the meantime, as we continue our quest, our blog will highlight tales of our learning in several ways, including spotlights of:  our client’s experiences of inspiration; new research on inspiration; highlights and new learning from our inspiration interviews.

We invite you to join us on our journey as we learn more about inspiration: follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to hear stories about inspiring individuals and leaders. We also wholeheartedly invite you to contribute your own ideas about inspiration. As a first place to start, take 5 minutes to participate in our original research by completing our inspiration survey.

Come join us!

As a spark, it feels like an epiphany, an “a-ha!,” or an expansive moment of insight – short-lived, bright, and powerful. As a flame, when we keep the spark alive over a period of time, we experience inspiration as ongoing creativity, engagement, and daily progress in our work.

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