If you are like most people, you probably idealize the concept of inspiration – you know it’s incredibly valuable, but also feel that it’s often unattainable. Creative change and growth consultant André Martin explains why your preconceptions about inspiration are wrong. Inspiration is not a gift; it is a repeatable process you can learn. Martin offers concrete steps to cultivate a practice of inspiration for yourself and within your teams. A discipline of inspiration will revitalize your ability to innovate and solve problems, and give you a greater sense of purpose in your life and your work.
- Leaders can revive a burned out workforce by cultivating inspiration.
- Inspiration is a process which people can learn, not a divine gift.
- Take concrete steps to build a practice of inspiration within your teams.
Leaders can revive a burned out workforce by cultivating inspiration.
Employee energy and engagement has dwindled in recent years, harming productivity. Rather than simply pushing employees to power through, leaders should rethink the role of inspiration in the modern workplace. Inspiration – when an object or experience affects someone positively, and they use the resulting energy to create something meaningful and new – can transform your employees’ energy and motivation.
“Inspiration catalyses the development of your employees’ most creative ideas into the actions and initiatives that become your company’s most successful innovations.”
Inspired employees, rather than being rote functionaries, become assets that truly advance a company’s mission.
Inspiration is a process which people can learn, not a divine gift.
If you’ve ever watched an artist in the midst of their craft and sensed their excitement at bringing something new into the world, you may have felt both awe and jealousy. You may incorrectly view inspiration as an unattainable gift experienced by certain lucky people. In reality, inspiration is a motivational, repeatable process which a person can learn. Inspiration isn’t divinely bestowed, or a synonym for creativity. You cannot achieve a state of inspiration through force of will, effort or increased output.
“Inspiration is a mental state in which individuals are compelled to take action towards bringing their creative ideas to life; producing new, different, better and more meaningful work in the process.”
In recent years, companies have tried to increase employee engagement by offering higher pay, more flexibility, luxurious offices and other extra perks. But even if engagement initiatives motivate employees to work hard – a questionable premise, given Gallup data showing a mere 32% of US employees are fully engaged at work – they will not create the outcomes companies truly want: more creativity and innovation. Engagement, when it occurs, may yield greater productivity; but inspiration allows you to see your work from a different perspective and discover new possibilities and potential. An inspired employee is internally driven to innovate and create new and meaningful ideas and solutions.
Take concrete steps to build a practice of inspiration within your teams.
Inspīr, a creative change and growth agency, suggests these three methods for helping people and organizations develop a discipline of inspiration.
- Shake things up – Try going outside your ordinary routine and experiencing new places, new conversations and new perspectives.
- Reflect – Make space to reflect on inspiring experiences. For example, ask your team to think deeply about the meaning behind an inspiring experience and how it might be relevant to their work.
- Explore deeply – When someone comes up with an innovative idea, take the time needed for you and your team to truly explore and experiment with the possibilities the idea presents.
“While engagement may result in a feeling of connection that presumably spurs employees to do more for their respective companies, inspiration directly results in more creative acts and actions that drive higher levels of innovation and growth.”
Technology company Juniper Networks, for instance, creates immersive experiences in which employees encounter a source of inspiration, then participate in guided, exploratory conversations. The company’s chief marketing officer, Mike Marcellin, has seen a tremendous positive effect on his team, and the company, as a result of learning better ways to access inspiration.
Ultimately, cultivating a practice of inspiration for yourself and your teams will help you find more hope and meaning in your work, as well as develop new and better solutions to problems in all aspects of your life.
About the Author
Dr. André Martin is a partner and consultant at Inspīr and former CLO at Google, Target and Nike. He guest lectures on design thinking and innovation.