Day has become night, Night has become day . . . which becomes night again, then night or is it day, then . . . its all a blur.

This is the reality when both of your sons, one a Graduate Student in Architecture, the other a talented Musician who writes and performs his own music, return home to ride out a pandemic. Inspiration runs rampant through the house, without regard to the relevance of sunrise and sunset, blurring parameters of what society would consider a traditional daily routine.

Embrace creativity at its peak, catch up on sleep once the moment has passed. Pretty cool.

This may prompt some to ask: “Tall Tim, has this destroyed your routine, thrown you off your game?”

Not in the least. As a Learning and Development professional, seizing the moment is woven into the fabric of my being. My wife is an Interior Designer with a shared passion for discovering creative solutions. Spontaneous insight has been a welcome presence in our home from the beginning. The boys grew up in this environment and feel totally uninhibited in their relentless pursuit of inspiration . . . day or night, as we’ve discovered.

Can the same be said in your work or home environment?

We’ll cut through the clutter and begin with what Oxford Dictionaries lists as its primary definition of Inspire:

“Fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something special, especially to do something creative.”

Elements within this simple definition fill us with the urge and ability to explore the importance of fostering an Inspiration Enabled Environment (IEE).

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Inspire is derived from inspirare, Latin for “breathe into”. Fitting that breathing, an instinctive, life sustaining rhythm would represent a core belief in our working model for an IEE:

You must first feel inspired, before you look to inspire others.

This belief is what inspired one of my favorite Icebreaking Questions. Many workshops have begun with a simple probe:

“Where do you go to feel inspired?”

You would be amazed at how many leaders struggle to answer to such a foundational question. Many will ask to be skipped in an effort buy time for reflection. Some will defer to a popular response from others, one they identify with, but only a placeholder for their reality. What I find most surprising is the number of leaders who will offer “No one has ever asked me that question.”

Which tells me everything I need to know. As a leader, we are charged with creating a permanent perspective of “more”. Our associates are not bound by expectations, but encouraged to think creatively, free to explore the unexpected. We extend collective vision beyond the borders of imagination, as success waits impatiently just over the horizon.

Whew . . . that’s a lot to ask of someone who is out of breath or running on an empty battery.

This underlines the importance of identifying a place or activity in which to recharge. A space where you can breathe, reconnect with your original passion, and safely separate personal-self from professional-self.

Some refer to “bliss”, a state of perfection that has you oblivious to external distractions. Listening to opinions about what you should do, how you should think, etc., however well-intended, detract from your ability to think creatively. Separation allows the freedom to slow down, evaluate the landscape in front of you.

For me, this means plunging myself into nature. Could be a few hours at the beach, working on our property in Central Florida, taking a walk along a National Park trail, etc. These activities not only slow the pace they open my heart to incredible insight and awareness. I feel immersed in potential and return to my routines fully charged.

Passion is rekindled, spirit is energized, you feel invigorated, ready to inspire others to pursue the same experience.

A Habit of Optimism

Pursing inspiration, to repeatedly seek creative and more improved paths to achievement, can be exhausting.  Attempts to influence and guide someone who lacks the urge to embrace this internal drive will only delay the inevitable. Your time is better spent identifying talent with a natural desire and the potential for achieving “more.”    

A character trait that should be approached as a competency consideration is Optimism. Given that Inspired Thinking is based on “What if?” as opposed to “What is”, much of our success will depend on trusting the unseen and unknown. A spirit of optimism, the belief or hope that the outcome of an endeavor will be positive, acts as fuel for your efforts to establish and sustain an IEE.

Someone with an optimistic approach will feel inspired by the potential of movement, beyond the impulse of the moment.

Spend Time on the Mountain

An aspect of our working model we have yet to address is the unique approach individuals will have when seeking inspiration. I once told a General Manager that I was going “to spend time on the mountain” to focus on a project. It’s an expression I use to communicate my intent to spend a few days working on concepts or chewing on ideas.

Her beleaguered response was, “How long do you think you’ll be up there?”

Once I explained my process for generating ideas, without communicating progress until a specific due date, she grasped the meaning. Not that she was totally comfortable with process but went with it. Eventually it became a term of endearment, as she would initiate the question “Going up the mountain?” before each new project.  

Granting, then respecting the space to pursue inspired thought, allowing creativity to run its natural course can be difficult. Trust your instinct and believe that others trust your ability to lead your team.

Inspired, Inspired, Inspired

Are you familiar with the GEICO commercial in which homeowners love the space in their new home, but lament their small problem with Aunts?

When Aunt Bonnie surveys the contents of their refrigerator, she discovers several items past their expiration date. Subtlety aside, she proclaims the status of each “Expired . . . Expired . . . Expired.”

Woven into the fabric of my being . . . each time I see the commercial, and reflect on that indelible tagline, I cannot help but envision the ultimate benefit of an Inspiration Enabled Environment. Picture, if you will, a Tall Tim Re-Write on that script:

When a leader surveys the contents of her roster, she discovers a consistent trait among team members. Subtlety aside, she proudly proclaims the status of each “Inspired . . . Inspired . . . Inspired.”

This will be the result of discovering where you can go to feel inspired, selecting optimistic talent with an urge to do “more”, then enabling an environment that fosters Inspired Thinking. Natural creativity, blended with a strong intuitive sense will unleash Next Level Empowerment, leaving you breathless as you whisper . . .

Inspired . . . Inspired . . . Inspired.