Giving Inspiration its Due


For it is not the light we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but the thunder. We need the the storm, the whirlwind, the earthquake.- Frederick Douglas

We consistently speak about the need for creativity and innovation — yet we rarely speak about the elements that come beforehand. Feeling inspired is a vital element in our work lives. However, it is often written off as an esoteric concept that cannot be well understood. Without inspiration so many things would have never come to be.

Exploring where and how we find inspiration, is time well spent.

Psychologists examining inspiration have postulated that the construct possesses 3 main components: evocation (it overtakes us, rather than being found), transcendence (the vision rises above our usual constraints and the status quo) and approach orientation (it moves/compels us toward the goal of exploration and expression). Moreover, inspiration differs from the concepts of insight and creativity.

Think of inspiration this way — insight is the problem solving component, creativity nurtures idea formation and inspiration drives the actualization of those ideas into action/products.

Inspiration somehow brings us to a place we’ve never visited — possibly to the crossroads of thought and experience. However, we must remember that how we are inspired (as individuals) varies. Some of us are inspired by what we read in books. Some of us by nature. Others in works of art or architecture. Still others can be inspired by a particular individual or their experiences (ergo a role model or the muse). We should try to become mindful of the elements that personally inspire us — as that spark of inspiration may be the beginning of our next, great chapter. As explained by researchers:

Despite superficial differences in narrative content, the inspiration narratives shared the underlying themes of having one’s eyes opened during an encounter with a person, object, event, or idea (i.e., being inspired “by”), and wishing to express or actualize one’s new vision (i.e., being inspired “to”). – Oleynick, et al., 2014.

Learning more about the process and how others might have been inspired in their daily lives is an interesting endeavor. So — here are a few sources addressing various topics surrounding inspiration. Let me know what you think:

If you are interested in learning more about inspiration as a psychological construct (as I am):
The Scientific Study of Inspiration in the Creative Process: Challenges and Opportunities, Oleynick et al., Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 25 June, 2014.

Peruse the “What Inspires Me” channel at LinkedIn. Read personal stories of challenge and success from authors worldwide.

The possible role of nature in inspiration: The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, by Florence Williams*

Daily Rituals by Malcolm Currey*
If you wonder how the masters structured their days (and possibly found inspiration), here is a fascinating source. Hint: Daily walks are quite common among this group. (Click on the icon to explore).

When was the last time you felt inspired? What precipitated inspiration?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

* This is an affiliate link. If you choose to purchase through this link, I receive compensation.

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