The intentional practice of inspiration is a choice. It doesn’t happen on its own and, as with any change, it requires focus and practice.
Before incorporating an intentional practice of inspiration into your day, leadership style, and organization, it’s imperative to understand what inspiration is and is not.
Inspiration Is Not…
This may surprise you, but inspiration is NOT creativity, engagement, flow, motivation, drive or even grit.
We mistakenly tend to think about inspiration as an intense emotion – a flash that appears without warning, a fleeting visitor, leaving as quickly as it appears. What if inspiration was a force we have the power to ignite and sustain on demand? Something we can not only create but can scale as a leadership resource within teams and organizations?
A spark that shines in the place where possibility and invincibility meet. It’s that magic thing that happens when you’re at your absolute best in terms of performance or impact.
When understood and given room to evolve, the spark grows into a sustained flame.
The initial spark of inspiration brings us two choices: (1) we ignore it and squash it or (2) we become curious and allow ourselves to lean into the possibilities and explore what might be. When we choose the latter, it’s an introduction to new ways of thinking and taking directed action that often leads to innovation and change.
Choosing the path of exploring and practicing inspiration can be intimidating at first, but stop and consider the impact your little spark can create. What might happen if you dedicated a bit of unstructured time to play with possibility?
Leaders who are able to inspire themselves are better equipped to inspire and influence their teams and systems within their organizations. They bring more strategic thinking, innovation, and possibility into their work; they collaborate more effectively and generate extraordinary results.
Choosing a pathway to inspiration starts with self-awareness.
Choosing a pathway to inspiration starts with self-awareness. We’ve witnessed “aha” moments – the realization that: “yes, I can create inspiration in my life and work” – in many of our clients. As soon as clients accept they can choose to be inspired, they are on a path towards it.
As part of an interview series we conducted, we asked interviewees about times that they have actively chosen inspiration, their descriptions show great self-awareness. People know what inspires them.
Some examples of individuals recognizing the opportunity to practice inspiration and choosing to capitalize on it include:
- Chuck Firlotte, president and CEO of Aquarion Company, made a conscious choice to spend more time meditating; he also talked about taking in the beauty and peace of wooded trails while exercising with his friend Charlie.
- Keith Yamashita, co-founder of SY Partners, a creative firm that specializes in organizational transformation, created a ritual of buying and reading a stack of magazines and then carving out time to sit with them, clipping pictures and other inspiring excerpts to fuel his ongoing inspiration.
- Alexander McCobin, CEO of Conscious Capitalism Inc., an organization dedicated to elevating humanity through business, has an automated email sent to his inbox every morning reminding him of his purpose.
Expand into an Intentional Practice of Inspiration
As the power of inspiration transforms your worldview, you will be motivated to share your new inspiration mindset and start to find advocates. This is where inspiration begins to take root. Your leadership is crucial to guide your team through reinventing the way they work, cultivating inspired habits, and adopting the intentional practice of inspiration.
Below are a few strategies we employ to build an intentional practice of inspiration at InspireCorps, and also part of the work we do with clients:
- Time blocking- set daily and weekly times in your calendar to spark your individual inspiration
- Build inspiration sparks into regular team meetings – by kicking off with a gratitude, a strengths check-in or sharing something that brings each person joy
- Planning unstructured blocks of times in your day/week to focus on thinking about and playing with possibility
- Directing your inspiration intentionally toward great results and positive impact
- Managing your physical, mental, and emotional energy to keep energy high and bounce back quickly from setbacks – this includes taking regular breaks throughout the day
- Seeking out social support or accountability from others
- Creating a ritual that will spark positive feelings each day, throughout the day
This will not happen overnight- impacting change takes time. The more you practice, the faster inspiration will organically become part of your leadership style and expand through your team of inspiration advocates. Together, you will begin to create a wave of sustainable inspiration.
Return on Inspiration (ROI)
The ROI or return on inspiration shows up in both tangible and intangible ways.
Individually, the ROI looks like more visionary and strategic thinking, greater positive impact and contribution, better relationships, greater opportunity to create meaning and fulfillment. Inspiration causes us to expand into new industries, inventions, careers, markets, or partnerships we never before thought possible.
On teams, the ROI looks like excellence in performance, agility in responding to shifting markets, more collaborative and rich in information sharing. Inspiring teams are better at attracting and retaining top talent through their sense of possibility and invincibility. Inspired individuals do great things in the world and experience great success.
Janet Kraus, CEO of Peach, one of our clients, committed to bringing inspiration through applied positive psychology into her company culture from the ground floor. Peach has experienced recent success from a traditional ROI perspective (steady growth, revenue, etc.) and Kraus attributes this success to their investment in inspiration culture from the beginning. Janet’s Return on Inspiration looks like off-site retreats for employees, a strengths-obsessed culture of open communication and trust, and integration of values and purpose into performance management.
Are You Inspired?
What does an intentional practice of inspiration look like for you?
Can you visualize a collaborative, inspired team working together and blazing sustainable inspiration through your organization?
How might it feel to empower your workforce with a proven methodology including cutting-edge tools and resources to build contagious inspiration that impacts your day, your employees, and the entire organization?
Inspired leadership begins here. How will you ignite the flame?