Of inspiration and dreams
In my thirties I was an executive director of an arts non-profit. I was continually amazed by the creativity of those whom I served. Artists and their inspiration were and are vital for my own inspiration. In the course of my five years’ work with the agency, I arrived at the idea of eventually opening an arts retreat center where artists from diverse fields could be “curated” to be in co-residence in order to create synergy and cross-pollination of ideas. I’ve always believed that new ideas come from mixing disparate thoughts and perspectives.
Inspiration from un-related items
Via Fast Company, author Tina Seelig shares a few perspectives on cross pollination and where to find inspiration. Seelig enumerates ways to develop ideas using cross-pollination. Her note,
“…playful inventions … result from connecting and combining objects and concepts that on the surface seem unrelated. By exploring ways to fuse them together, we see many surprising and interesting ideas surface.”
These words struck just the right chord with me. I’ve been working on the development of a corporate identity for a new client.
Avoiding pre-existing thoughts
My client’s business is a new-in-concept service uniting her lifetime of experience and education into a brilliant service for those wishing to build a custom home or renovate or expand an existing one. She will provide a service previously existing primarily in the commercial interior design world to the homeowner. Many of the words and phrases one uses to convey the “what” of her business are weighted with pre-existing definitions. Wishing to avoid pre-existing or connotative thought, I’ve been wandering in the land of unrelated items.
To find my inspiration, I’ve examined all the platitudes, idioms, and phrases which get at the “what” or “why” of the client’s work. I’ve also brainstormed with my business partner, and my client and my colleagues. I’ve created lists and phrases and smashed together more than a few ideas. And there may be a few nuggets of gold in there.
At this point, my greatest challenge is to stay out of my own way–preventing myself from determining which idea is “best” or “most workable” or keep myself from deleting any idea.
Where do others gain inspiration?
I asked a few Twitter friends how they gain inspiration. And similarly to Seelig and me, Doretha Walker*, uses a combination of tactics.
Realizing that one cannot wait on inspiration to spring from others, Walker says, “I decided I needed to inspire myself. I started small. I wrote down only the good things that happened to me (real and imaginary.) You laugh at imaginary, but there are times when I feel great because I thought something happened or I dreamed something and I take credit for those things.” Critical to her self-inspiration is the lack of judgment. Staying open to all ideas pays off as Walker found. “After a while the list was very long.”
Self-judgment gets in the way of creativity. As does lack of gratitude. Gratitude and the feeling of bounty beget more. Walker has tapped into that too.
“When things get bad I read my list and channel those good feelings. If only for a moment in time, I feel better. Those tiny moments over time add to minutes, hours, and then days.”
“I also thank God and myself for things that happen throughout the day. Thanking myself is sometimes just the words THANK YOU or it is run, a yoga class, a break from grading papers, or other things.”
“It has become second nature now. I am appreciative when others encourage and support me; but I feel so much better when I allow myself to bask in my glory even for a short time.”
And there it is, the single most critical element to coaxing, cajoling, canoodling inspiration–lack of self-judgment coupled with delight in your ability to be creative.
So, whether your inspiration comes from combining disparate things, examining idioms, or reflections on bounty, bid it come with some of the habits detailed here and in Seelig’s post. But, bid it come, for life without inspiration is little fun.
*Doretha, who established the Walker Phenomenal Spirit Award that funds women’s dreams, is a marathoner and triathlete. She is a public speaker, author of The Traits that built African American Women Leaders in the Area of Governance in South Carolina, an academic ebook, frequent guest columnist for the Post and Courier’s Moxie section and book reviewer for the newspaper. She is also a former regular contributor to Living Roots magazine and guest blogger on several sites. Her own blog, We Can Fly Higher, inspires people, especially women, to think bigger and aim higher. dorethawalker.com