The Inspiration Code

How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day

The Inspiration Code

Author: Kristi Hedges
Pub Date: June 2017
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814437896
Page Count: 288
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814437902

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For twenty years, psychology professors Todd Thrash and Andrew Elliot have been studying the process of inspiration. They've produced numerous studies that uncover what transpires within us when we catch the spark of inspirational light.

Thrash and Elliot have determined that inspiration is a culmination of several components coming together, not just a one-sided event. Inspiration may feel as if it just happens, but in fact, there's a rhythm or process to it. Thrash and Elliot have found that inspiration involves three defining elements:

1. Transcendence: We can see beyond our ordinary preoccupations or limitations to discover new or better possibilities.

2. Motivation: We feel energized, or even compelled, to bring an idea into action or carry it forward.

3. Evocation: We are receptive to an influence beyond ourselves that creates the inspiration within us.

We can't will ourselves to be inspired, though we often wish we could. Rather, there's a trigger. This may be a person, an idea, or both. We are exposed to an inspirational force that causes a profound reaction within us. Thrash and Elliot further state that inspiration actually involves two separate component processes: We are inspired by something as well as to an action. I was inspired by a leader to go out on my own. It's both an insight and an energetic push.

In an interview with me, Thrash put it this way: "There's always a transmission process of one sort or another. What exactly that transmission means can vary. Transmission could start with an insight, an exemplar, language, or the assistance of another person who helps you envision possibilities you might not have recognized on your own. The person getting inspired has to become aware of a better possibility. That's how the process starts. After that, they get motivated to bring that possibility into fruition."

The research also makes it clear that inspiration can't be forced. It can't feel like manipulation or even influence. In The Power of Presence, I wrote about influence. There are many situations where that's the right approach. Inspiration, however, is a different route, though sometimes complementary. Inspiration is an invitation, and since it fosters a personal insight, it can't be heavy handed. A person decides to be inspired for herself, and isn't beholden to someone else's agenda. There's positive energy around it. People don't go home after work and say, "What a great day today, I was influenced!" But they would love to be able to say, "Today I was inspired."

By being an inspirational person, we are not the driver but the catalyst. As Thrash says, "The person who seeks to inspire others would have to look at their task as not making the person inspired, but rather as providing the context where spontaneous processes get triggered."

Think about how much more engaged we would be at work if we were truly inspired in this way--if we had leaders who viewed their jobs as triggers for an inspired workforce. When we're inspired, we work the hardest and most creatively. We don't need to be overmanaged because our energy pulls us along. We elect to do more and go further. It feels a whole lot more like fun than like work.

If we want to have inspired companies, then we need inspirational leaders. And that involves being the kind of leader who communicates in a way that creates the conditions for inspiration in others. It's about making the right connection and letting the inspiration take off from there.

Excerpted from THE INSPIRATION CODE by Kristi Hedges. Copyright © 2017 by Kristi Hedges. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.

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