Monday Mornings with Madison

Motivation and Inspiration: Two Key Ingredients for Success

Part 2:  Being Inspired

Speak to anyone involved in doing something creative for a living, and you are bound to hear a lot about inspiration.  Artists.  Musicians.  Entrepreneurs.  Writers.  Actors.  Inventors.  Photographers.  Architects.  Most will reference muses or sources of inspiration.  For some, it is divine inspiration.  For others, inspiration comes from nature… the light, the ocean, mountains, or sky.  Still others are inspired by people and their stories… a muse or coach.  Inspiration is the stimulation from an outside source that spurs a person to special or unusual activity or creativity.   But since inspiration comes from outside, it is often out of one’s control.  For some, inspiration is like lightning… it strikes and then is gone.

So how does one ‘find’ inspiration?  If it is an external source, is it possible to seek inspiration?  And can someone set out to inspire another?  Is inspiration completely spontaneous, or is it something that can be attained, given or harnessed?

The Search for Inspiration

Inspiration can come from anywhere, anyone or anything.  For each person, the source of inspiration is different.  So ‘finding’ inspiration is often a process of trial and error.  This can be frustrating, especially if inspiration is needed in order to achieve great things at work.  While it can be hard to identify a source of inspiration, once a particular source is found, then that source can be tapped again and again to spur great activity or creativity.  For example, Claude Monet was inspired to paint be what he saw in nature.  The gardens of his home in Giverny, France served as a hotbed of inspiration for his amazing artistic talents.

The key to finding inspiration that spurs great activity or creativity is to withhold judgment and create enough space within the mind to be able to take in a different perspective or see something that is different.  Keeping an open mind is very important to receiving inspiration.

Of course, most people typically relate inspiration to one’s personal life.  But inspiration is just as necessary as it relates to careers.  Inspiration is needed in order to invent the next great innovation.  Inspiration is necessary in order to solve a problem that is hindering a company’s progress.  Inspiration is key for any leader that seeks to take a company from good to great.  So what can serve as sources of inspiration for professionals?   Here are some sources that often serve as inspiration for many.


For some, inspiration enters from a collection of sources that can be summed up as “beauty.”   That beauty might be found in people, works of art, beautiful buildings, amazing sunsets or even culinary creations.  For an architect, for example, seeing the mixing of different materials along with different tools to produce a breathtaking can be inspirational.  That sculpture can then serve as inspiration for the architect to design a great building.  Many architects draw inspiration for their work from works of art which were inspired by other sources.  What serves as inspiration for one person’s creativity then produces something beautiful which in turn becomes a source of inspiration for someone else.  Because beauty often can only be experienced ‘in the world’, it is important for professionals to take vacations and venture out into the world to experience new things.  It can serve as fertilizer for the imagination.


For many, nothing is more inspiring than to hear or read a story.  Inspiration can come from biographies about people who have overcome great challenges or accomplished great things.  It can be a carefully worded poem about the human condition.  It can be found in a heartfelt letter from one to another.  It can be a speech delivered by Steve Jobs to the graduating class at Stanford University.  Any story that connects one person’s struggle or mission to another can be a great source of inspiration.

Divine Sources

For some, inspiration comes from religion and religious sources.  For example, words found in the Torah can be uplifting.  Messages that communicate divine wisdom or power can be a source of great inspiration.


Hearing great people share ideas and discuss challenges can be incredibly inspirational.  That is why trade shows and conferences can be such a great source of encouragement for professionals.  Meeting new people and continuing relationships with colleagues and other professionals can spur new life into stale but otherwise qualified professionals.


Hearing the right message from a stimulating speaker can serve as a source of energy and inspiration for many.  There is a reason why speakers such as Tony Robbins, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Zig Ziglar and Stephen Covey are paid top dollar to speak to audiences around the world.  Their messages serve as verbal dynamite that spur people to create and act with purpose.


For some, creativity and inspiration is born in the right setting.  A work space that is vibrant, has beautiful vistas or artwork, and good lighting can help inspire creativity.  For some, uplifting music in the work space can have the same impact.  It is important to work in an environment that is conducive to spur action, inventiveness, and originality.

While inspiration does not come from within, that doesn’t mean that one must sit around passively hoping for a tidal wave of inspiration to coast by in order to ride the wave.  It helps to think about what has been a source of inspiration in the past and then pursue that source again.  If taking a trip to the top of Mount Fuji served as a source of inspiration, book that next excursion.  If attending a conference helped make a project come to life last year, then make reservations to attend the next trade show for your line of work.  Inspiration may come from outside but there is no need to wait around for it to come again.  Go after it and let that serve as the energy that spurs success.

Quote of the Week

“You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London


© 2013, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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