Find the Fire

Ignite Your Inspiration--and Make Work Exciting Again

 Find the Fire

Author: Scott Mautz
Pub Date: October 2017
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814438220
Page Count: 240
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814438237

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Let us begin this excavation with a deeper understanding of inspiration. Leading research on inspiration reveals three defining characteristics:

1. Our inspiration can be evoked; we become inspired by (a leader, an act of bravery, a sunset, a story of redemption, remarkable work). Responsibility for becoming inspired is ascribed to something beyond the self, something that has engendered a deep appreciation.

2. Our inspiration can come from within, triggered when we gain an awareness of better possibilities and when new interests or insights are revealed. This reorients us toward something more imperative than our usual focus (an innovative idea piques our interest, a new challenge stirs us, a renewed relationship reenergizes us, a better way to work becomes evident).

3. Any of these inspirations can compel us to act--we have a strong motivation to act on and actualize the idea, interest,

or insight and/or express or imitate the qualities expressed in the inspirational stimulus. It is here that we are inspired to work with conviction, joy, excitement, confidence, control, and pride. We're inspired to create, connect, produce, and pursue ideas and interests with vigor.

This last characteristic of inspiration, being compelled to act, is of course the most critical. Many things can inspire us; it's what we decide to do with the inspiration that really matters.

If only it were that easy.

Each characteristic contains inherent challenges to unlocking sustained self-inspiration.

The problem with being inspired by is that by definition, it's passive. It implies involvement of external forces, something more likely to be out of our control, less likely to be reliable, and that you often have to wait for. And the associated inspiration is often fleeting, by the way. Your inspirational CEO can fire you up for only so long before you find yourself back at your desk, trying to put your finger on the funk you're in (and trying to move your finger fast enough on your Fruit Ninja game app).

The difficulty with inspiring from within and gaining awareness of better possibilities, insights, or interests is that it is elusive. It's not obvious as to how one goes about revealing such gems. New insights are rare by design; they wouldn't be insightful if they were mere common knowledge. On the surface here, happenstance plays far too big a role.

The issue with feeling compelled to act is that it all too easily gets repressed--by our soul-crushing work environment or our own debilitating hang-ups.

So the core elements of inspiration are inherently passive, elusive, or repressed--which sounds like the name of a teenager's memoir. The point is that this is hardly fodder for believing sustained self-inspiration is right around the corner. No wonder inspiration levels are so alarmingly low in the workplace.

Now that you understand the anatomy of inspiration and the inherent challenges of inspiring oneself, you've hopefully gained an appreciation for why asking and acting on "What inspires me?" simply isn't a robust enough approach. You aren't alone starting with this question, by the way, as research indicates we most frequently ask this of ourselves when we're attempting to get re-grounded and light a spark. While a reasonable starting place, the question tells only half the story.


The question to ask yourself, in fact, is not "What inspires me?"

Instead, real insight and application lies in the question, "How did I lose my inspiration in the first place?"

Remember, we all had it--we started our jobs filled with inspiration. As I mentioned before, we didn't even have to think about it really--it was just there, everywhere, like half-finished highway construction.

What happened?

How might we return to that blissful time?

When we closely analyze how it is that we tend to lose our inspiration, it reveals root causes lying under the surface that have been slowly draining our inspiration over time. Such causes derail us from all the most critical things that can self-sustain inspiration.

Furthermore, such analysis engenders more control because, when known, the root causes are things that you can do something about--so inspiration no longer has to seem so passive, elusive, or repressed.

That's why "How did I lose my inspiration in the first place?" is such a powerful question--a question for which the answer, and its implications, will inspire you.

Excerpted from FIND THE FIRE: Ignite Your Inspiration — and Make Work Exciting Again by Scott Mautz. Copyright © 2018 Scott Mautz. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.

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