I love my work and am passionate about making a difference in what I do; helping workplaces to become more human. Yet some days I wake up and I get a feeling of “I can’t be a***d today!” Does this ever happen to you?
The antidote? We usually need to find some inspiration to energise ourselves. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities.
So I’ve been working on mastering ways that can help lift us back into the zone when we need to. Inspiration when fully felt can feel like a fire has ignited inside of us that suddenly illuminates everything and makes it much easy for fresh ideas and solutions to flow from deep within our subconscious as the neurons start to connect at lightning speed. The thing is some days we need some help to ignite that fire – a kind of resetting of the pilot light if you like. We need fuel and we need some sparks!
Think of the fuel as being sourced from something that we make connection with. If I say ‘Purple’ – what comes into your head? If I say ‘May’ what do you think of and then what does that make you think of? Here are some of the things that have worked for me and others I have had the privilege to work with:
Nature – going for a walk and connecting to nature, even in a bit of rain, can really bring us back to life. I spent some time in the Amazon where daily rain is a vital part of the rainforest ecosystem. We had no showers on our small boat so around 4pm every day when the rains came, I would head out on deck with a bar of soap and let nature do the rest. It was an amazing feeling of being alive! Ok, so I’m not suggesting you try this in St James’ park with your team but just getting out in the fresh air can be invigorating. Take in the colours, sounds, texture and shapes and feel a sense of being much more present as you are focused more on your surroundings than being lost in thought. Look up above eye level and it’s amazing what you can discover.
Move – We are not designed to sit in front of ours screens all day – we need to move around, stretch and breathe fully if we are to be at our optimum. Doing this outside is best – so make some time each day if you can. Recent research by Draugiem group has suggested that we are much more effective if we work in a max of one hour (or 52 mins to be exact!) chunks and then take a proper break for 17 mins or so. We live in a culture of meetings so why not take your meetings outside and go a for a walking meeting with your colleague or sit on a bench someplace inspiring.
Read, watch, listen, write – There is so much content out there in the digital space now to spark inspiration in us.
Check out these inspiring short films from Lifehack.
Have a read of ‘Thrive’ by Arianna Huffington, who believes wisdom, wonder and wellbeing are the keys to or success.
Check out ‘Creative Mornings’ for inspiring regular breakfast talks in major cities across the globe; https://creativemornings.com or join a meetup group to find likeminded souls that love what you love; https://www.meetup.com
Write: Try some stream of consciousness writing. Put a statement at the top of the page, e g. ’I am inspired by…’ or ‘what I love to do is…’ and write for 3 minutes solid without stopping or editing and see what appears on the page. When you reflect on it – how has it made you feel? What action does it ignite?
Visual stimulation – Take your team out to visit an exhibition for an hour or so. Doing this during work time ahead of or if you are stuck, on a creative project can work wonders. I took a group to the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy and asked then to choose five pieces that they connected with and ask themselves what they connected with and why. Find out what’s going on near you – there’s usually some great free stuff.
Get Curious – commit to doing something new every day to help re-train your brain. It can be something small: try a new coffee shop, connect with someone new at work, try a different route to the office. Fear and habit are the biggest blockers of creativity and original new thinking, so it’s important to push ourselves in the opposite direction regularly and create some new neural pathways in our brains. Reconnect with your ‘why?’ – Other than money, why did you chose the job you do? Why did you choose to work where you are working? What could you do today that taps into that original purpose?
Challenge yourself: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
– it’s often said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself and even that we can transcend. 95% of our fears don’t become reality anyway and even if they do we handle them and we usually grow in some way. So try doing something that scares you a little bit, whether that’s giving a talk, learning a new skill or starting something at work.
I’d love to hear what inspires you so we can share with others. On my fridge I have two questions; ‘What can I do to inspire myself today?’ and ‘What can I do to inspire others?’ I see them when I get the milk out and it’s usually a short cut to get the chemicals in my brain firing. It didn’t work yesterday though so I sulked for an hour or so, then (even though it was raining), I decided to take myself for a walk by the river. That did the trick! The fact is we are all human, we have biorhythms not algorithms and we can sometimes feel low on energy or mood for no apparent reason and of course we can stay like that all day if we want to but think of how much better the day will be, not just for us but if we get that fire going, the sparks will fly off and start new fires in those around us. In the workplace energy exchange is intense when pressure is on – we can be firing on all cylinders in a meeting when someone walks in and sinks the mood. If that happens ask them what inspires them about the issue you are there discuss – that’ll throw them!
Next time I’m going to look at the possible impact of automation on us humans in the workplace. Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
People & Culture Development Leader & Fellow Human