Even though I was going to follow this theme all the way through the month, this is probably the last in the series. It’s been interesting and insightful, it’s also starting to be overwhelming. The quest to discover new things about myself, and to let you get to know me better, is not one of the things I’m inspired by. I need a bit of a break to process all of this.
3 Things I’m Inspired by
To put this one together, I read a number of interviews with creative people where they were asked about inspiration. What I found was that most people answered very specifically. They talked about what inspired their overall style, or a particular piece that had created. I guess I wanted answers that were broader and more conceptual. So I ended up brainstorming, thinking about things that impact not just my work by my approach to life. This is what I came up with.
If you go to my contact page you’ll see that it starts with an excerpt from Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech. It’s my passive-aggressive way of saying that if you’re going to come for me, you had better have some bona fides of your own to back you up. You might not like or appreciate what I do, but at least I’m doing something. I have no patience for people who sit on the sidelines and criticize other peoples’ work.
Which was a long way to go to say that people who refuse to give up inspire me. They kept at it. They didn’t try something, then quit as soon as they discovered it was hard. In the fact of negative critique, they resolved to do better. Keep submitting manuscripts. Continue going out on auditions. Don’t stop painting. Even if you temporarily shift your passion from a career pursuit to a hobby, be persistent.
Perhaps this is too close to persistence. It’s not failure itself that inspires me, but the way that some people are able to handle it gracefully. They learned from it. Maybe they got up and persistently continued to pursue their goal. They may have had an epiphany that they should be doing something else. It could be that they got an idea for a new product or service, and that launched them into success.
I know too many people who take one failure as the sign to quit. Or they fail but don’t learn, and keep trying to do the same thing the same way with the same lack of success. We need to fail in order to learn. It’s how we discover things. No one grows as a person by giving up.
My final bit of inspiration is people who focus on what they can do, rather than what they can’t. This ties into persistence and failure, although I’m not sure what to call the overarching theme. They try something, and when it doesn’t work, they try something else. If that way doesn’t work, find a different way.
Katie and I had no money when we decided to move to Finland. It took us two years to figure it out. We had to create new and interesting ways to make it work. My job was created from scratch out of necessity, cobbling together bits of things I already knew and things I could easily learn. To quote Hannibal, “Aut inveniam viam aut faciam!“.
What I Can Do With This
These things already have a through line in the way I work. The resourcefulness thing is practically part of my business plan. I live with resource limitations that I’m constantly having to work around. That requires resourcefulness. If something doesn’t work, learn from it and try again. If you’re passionate about something, you will take inspiration from other people in your field who struggled before they found success.