By nature, humans are selfish. Conventionally, one might predict that by holding tight to our own ideas and efforts would benefit and propel our creativity and lead to further inspiration – it’s actually quite the opposite. Inspiration, in its essence, is transcendent of ourselves, and is most actively evoked and sustained when we seek to benefit the greater good.
Inspiration comes from helping others
I was sitting at a coffee shop with a friend on was a rainy, Saturday afternoon. We were knee deep in an amazing conversation about her entrepreneurial goals, and were trying to work out the logistics of what she could do financially to make these dreams a reality. It was amazing to be able to walk alongside and witness as someone unfolds their calling. That afternoon, I felt inspired, not just by the sheer excitement that seemed to be oozing out of her, but by the fact that I was able to play even a small role in helping her along her journey. Which brings me to my first point about inspiration – it’s about so much more than just you! The mere act of stepping outside of yourself – your life, your schedule, and your interests, actually sets the stage for you to be more inspired than ever. This is similar to being open to experience, wherein you are allowing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone in order to be exposed to something new, thereby evoking something (inspiration) within you. In the same way, going out of your way to do something for someone else, or simply be there for them can act as a source of inspiration for your own projects and goals.
Helping my friend figure out her finances that day, something that ultimately didn’t benefit me in any measurable way, launched something inside me. It was that day that I began to really see the tangible value that I was bringing to people. By no means have I ever considered myself an “expert” in finances, or in any field, for that matter. But, I do know that in taking the time to help her, despite my insecurities, I left that meeting feeling emboldened in my own journey; inspired to keep pushing myself beyond my mental, intellectual, technical, and creative roadblocks to see my own goals come to fruition.
Inspiration is bigger than you
In Ancient Greece, it was believed that creative inspiration was bestowed upon the lucky few on whom the gods and goddesses looked upon favourably. In fact, the term muse comes from the Muses, goddesses who were considered the supernatural source of inspiration in literature, the sciences, and art. Suffice to say, many people still pray to their respective deities to “give them their next great idea!”, or any idea. Remnants of this ancient thinking is still prevalent in our so-called modern, enlightened Western society. And, I don’t particularly mind that at all.
I think the reason the ancient Greeks, and many of us still today believe that inspiration is given by God, or gods, is that when we get it, it feels so much bigger than ourselves. We believe our idea for an app is “going to be huge”, or that our song is going to be a classic. And, the truth is, that’s usually not the case. But, it sure feels like that every time! Right?! We feel that our inspired idea is going to touch the lives of millions of people in a meaningful way, as we should. That’s the perplexing, and amazing thing about inspiration – it desires to serve the needs of others. It feels like only something “from God” would make us actually want to go beyond our own self-interests and serve the greater good. Inspiration is, ultimately, about so much more than just you and making your own life better. Your ideas, companies, movies, books, and records should all aim at making the world a better, happier, healthier place. If they aren’t, take a step back and re-evaluate what you’re bringing to the table, what you’re offering. Your work must transcend the confines of your life in order for it to be a lasting, and meaningful enterprise.
Give a little social media love
If social media has taught us anything beyond the fact that people are really good at staging their morning coffees and laptops, it’s that there is very little most of us can amicably agree upon. Whether it’s politics, sports, fashion, music, books, you name it. Facebook has successfully managed to turn all of us against each other. However, there is one area in which I always seek to encourage people online, and that’s their creative and/or entrepreneurial pursuits. It seems people are more interested in liking and commenting on your selfies than they are about anything you post about your business, blog, or other endeavours. Am I mad about it? If I’m honest, a little. Pursuing your passions, and having the courage to step out and tell people about it, hoping they’ll support you, isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright terrifying!
It doesn’t take much effort on your part to click ‘Share’ on something that a friend has posted about the coffee shop they just opened, or the leather bags they designed and are now selling. If you like their work, share it! Tell people in your network about it. Encourage those around you, because you better believe that when you want to promote your own project, you’re going to be hoping and wishing that people in your community would support and encourage you. Entrepreneurship, business, and creative projects are a battle. You’re fighting your insecurities, your wallet, and sometimes (usually) even your need for sleep. We need to step outside of ourself and support those around us who are running their own races. Entrepreneurship can be a long, lonely, and difficult journey alone. But, trust me, it feels so much better, and easier, when you can see that encouragement and support of those around you. And, better yet, actually buy something from that person, rather than just financially supporting large corporations. Every little bit can help get a business off the ground and to greater heights.
Whatever it is your project is about, it should really only be about one thing – others. Be inspired by helping and serving someone else with your talents and/or products, and by encouraging and supporting those that are running a similar race as you.
Here’s to coffee dates on rainy, Saturday afternoons.