inspiration

What we get from the things that don't belong

Our first reaction to an encounter something that seemingly doesn’t belong is to ridicule it.

If it, whatever it is, doesn’t belong it could be dangerous to our familiar way of doing things, putting our hard-earned beliefs and processes at risk. Nobody wants to be told that idea they’ve had their entire life, it turns out, wasn’t right. Or that the way they’ve always done something is the actually the most inefficient way of doing it.

It’s only natural that we reject the new and different in favor of the old and familiar, particularly if what’s new is naturally out of place.

But what we miss by rejecting those things that occasional misplaced is an opportunity to improve; ourselves, our work, or our environment.

That wacky coworker or classmate might make you roll your eyes, but they also have the ability to make you see things in a different way. Adding an item that doesn’t belong into your environment might at first be a distraction, but it also might make you start doing things in an unfamiliar, empowering way.

Sometimes you can’t beat a good old pen and paper for taking notes while everyone else is writing on their laptop (research shows this old-fashioned way of doing things actually helps retain more knowledge).

Using a satirical, oversized marker and a huge pad of paper might make you feel silly in a meeting, but it also might cause you to focus on the big-picture rather than the unnecessary details.

And if you fill a building with a bit of nature you might start to reevaluate how you think about the environments you spend so much time in every day.

Photos by photographer  Gohar Dashti .

Photos by photographer Gohar Dashti.

The odd thing in a familiar place can often cause us to see things in a different way. And just because not everyone sees the value in the strange doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. Not everyone needs to accept the thing that doesn’t belong initially, that’s why we label it as something that "doesn’t belong.”

Of course we know this because the likes of Einstein, Picasso, Beethoven, Curie all had their ideas and work rejected by the populace out of the gate.

We don’t get to discover the creative—the new and valuable—unless we’re willing to look at something that doesn’t belong and ask ourselves: what does this cause me to see or think in a new way?



Let's talk about Feck Perfuction

If you don’t know James Victore you’ve been missing out.

James is an artist, author, teacher, and designer who over his career has been shouting the importance of “be you” over all other things. Why? To quote James from his new book Feck Perfuction:

“Your voice is the story you put into everything you do. It’s what sets you apart and makes you and your work memorable. It frees you from following trends or begging for ideas, asking ‘What do they want?’ Now your most powerful tool is asking yourself, ‘What do I have to say?’”

It is this new book from James that I want to tell you about, because it’s a creative bible I literally could not put down once I started reading it.

The book is, again, Feck Perfuction. It’s a collection of short, “dangerous” insights James has collected over the course of his career, creating artwork featured everywhere from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Louvre in Paris, the Stedelijk in Amsterdam and the Library of Congress.

James is someone I have admired for many years, as his no-bullshit attitude and straight-forward approach to creating work that stands out is some of the most powerful insights and wisdom I have ever had the pleasure of following. So when he announced his new book I immediately jumped to get a copy. Thankfully James was kind enough to send me an advanced copy so I could read the whole book before it launched today.

I can say this honestly: if you’re a creative of any kind—artist, writer, designer, entrepreneur, inventor, whatever—you will want to read this book.

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James covers a lot of ground in the book, everything from how to find what matters most to you as a creative to how to the importance and value of failure.

“Failure is a test. Its purpose is to weed out those of us who don’t want things badly enough.”

The book is the kind you will want to not only buy in a physical format like paperback, but you’ll likely want to buy two copies (I just bought five). Simply because it’s the type of book you’ll want at home, at work or school, and maybe even just sitting in your travel bag or car.

You’re going to find yourself wanting to pick the book up any time you need a bit of creative spark, or motivation. And the book absolutely delivers every time you open it to a random page. James brings his years of experience and uniquely bold voice to the most critical elements of being an artist or creator.

Fear of the blank page? Uncertainty about leaving a reliable job for a more freeing one? Doubt you can make it in your chosen career? Feck Perfuction is the book you need to help get you through.

“Financial success is great, but the world doesn’t need more millionaires. We need more creative people who give a damn about something other than themselves.”

I promise you if you get this book you will not regret it. You will use it as I have over the past few days: as a guiding light in the dark, a creative spark when you’re low on energy. Go get the book.

And, as always, you can find even more books to light your creative fire in the Creative Something Library.

Disclaimer: this post was not paid for or endorsed in any way. This is my truly, honest impression of the book. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have written this.



Overcoming the factors that often keep us from being creative

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Ultimately we are the thing which keeps us from being creative. We, ourselves, are only to blame.

Though excuses are plentiful, creativity by nature asks us to push past or through any excuse we may come up with. We overcome these excuses by maneuvering around constraints, ignoring status quo, or destroying expectations and even core beliefs.

This all makes sense, as the source of creativity in any event is always our own mind. That’s where we process everything in and around us, the world outside our minds exists, but it’s only by being processed within our brains that we come to understand and comprehend it (or don’t). Everything occurs within the mind, as David Eagleman so elegantly writes in his book Incognito:

”Your brain is encased in absolute blackness in the vault of your skull. It doesn't see anything. All it knows are these little signals, and nothing else. And yet you perceive the world in all shades of brightness and colors. Your brain is in the dark but your mind constructs light.

Because everything we think and believe and process takes place within our minds, the barriers or factors which inhibit our creativity are all within our minds too.

Our existing knowledge and experience, our ability to question and seek answers or pursue opportunity, our energy and taste for risk, our relationship to fear and doubt, all play a part in our ability to think creatively and have worthwhile ideas. Each exists in the form of bodily networks or systems, behaviors, habits, and beliefs.

When we feel stuck or hindered what we’re really feeling is uncertainty, fear, doubt, confusion, or simply an encounter with something we do not know how to move around (it’s worth noting that just because we can’t see a way around an obstacle does not mean there isn’t a way around it).

Undoubtedly there are factors outside ourselves that play a part in our ability to think creatively too, through their influence and affect on us. As an example: if you grew up in an environment which discouraged risk taking, question asking, or being open to change and differences, you’re much less likely to seek those things out as you age and mature. It just won’t be part of your “nature.”

Or if you spend all of your time and energy on familiar routines or efforts which benefit from the feelings of comfort and safety but detract from the hints which might otherwise motivate or inspire you, you’re unlikely to begin any pursuit of meaningful ideas. You’ll be fixated on what you know and what feels comfortable, less inclined to pursue even slightly risky endeavors; this despite the fact that a slight change to behavior or routine might yield hugely impactful insights to your perception of the world or the work you do.

As you can see, there are certainly factors outside ourselves which inhibit or otherwise influence our creativity. If we do not surround ourselves with inspiration or motivation—examples of the creative process in action—we may never feel comfortable or knowledgeable enough to do those things too. If you never see someone think creatively, it’s hard to know how to do it yourself. If you never learn about something that’s possible, you may not think of it at all (let alone whether it’s impossible or not).

Still, in the end, it all—the inspiration and inhibition—take place within our minds. We are the central conductor with which the mind plays. And when it comes to creativity we are setting our own limits; no one else and nothing else can prevent us from “thinking differently” (with perhaps the exception of mental disability or disease).

All we need in order to embark on a creative pursuit is exactly that: think differently. Think in different terms, think of different tools, different modes of functioning, of seeing the world. And there are thousands of ways we can do this in any situation. (If you’re really stuck, I wrote a book filled with 150 challenges for thinking differently.)

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So, if this is all true, why do we not act creatively in everything we do? Why do we struggle to generate truly creative ideas when we need or want them most? Why aren’t we all creative, all the time?

The reality is that creativity isn’t always necessary, the process of thinking creatively will not always yield something worthwhile in a moment, and it’s often much easier to stick with what we know and how we’ve always thought than it is to try something differently.

Creativity requires energy and even then does not ensure an energetic return on investment. It took Edison and his team more than 1,000 iterations to find the perfect filament for the lightbulb. Henry Ford famously failed numerous times in his attempt to manufacture a car. Apple ended up building and selling a beautifully contained computer that consistently cracked and ultimately failed.

Then there’s the greatest factor which keeps us from pursuing creativity: fear. Fear of rejection, of embarrassment, or failure. Fear can prevent us from having being creatively driven, from even trying to think differently or to take a risk or to be open to experiences. Nobody wants to fail or to make mistakes, because those things hurt and can damage (temporarily or permanently) or reputation or ego. And because fear is such an ingrained part of human nature it’s often the most common blocker for exploring a new idea or pursuing a unique opportunity.

When I first started writing about creativity here on Creative Something (more than 11 years ago now!) I would often be asked to help someone whose boss or manager or peer wasn’t “allowing” them to be creative. I’d be told: “I want to do something creative but this other person isn’t letting me, they shut down every idea I have and I’m afraid if I try anything I’ll lose my job.” Or someone would email me saying: “I want to be creative at school but I don’t have anyway to express myself how I want to!”

My response to those types of messages comes down to what I started this post by stating: the only thing stopping you from being creative is you.

Someone told you that you couldn’t do a certain thing? So what, use that creative brain of yours and come up with an alternate plan. Unsure of how to move an idea forward? Try something, anything, and if that doesn’t work try something completely different. Not sure how to do something? Talk to others, read a unique book, break routine and go somewhere new to be inspired.

Nobody is stopping you from being creative but yourself.



The role isolation plays in the creative process

Is isolation a necessary component of creative thinking?

If we want to have a truly unique idea, the theory goes, we must lock ourselves away with inspiration in order to get it. But the reality is that isolation is important for only one stage of the creative process. For everything else, isolation can hinder, not help, creative thinking.

Yet when we look at the most celebrated creatives in history—the likes of Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Mozart, Picasso, or Jobs—the persona we often see is that of the lone genius. It feels empowering to look at these creative greats and the ideas they brought into the world as individualistic rather than one piece in a larger picture, because it means that we, too, can become great if we can come up with the next big idea ourselves, on our own.

Creativity, we sing, is about individual expression and what we can come up with on our own, so it makes sense that we should isolate ourselves from the rest of the world if we’re to come up with any worthwhile ideas. This misbelief is spread far-and-wide, as even creative experts preach that room away from noise and clutter is the best way to generate novel and valuable ideas.

But the reality is far from that picture. Ideas do not come from isolation, at least not completely. Isolation does play an important role in the creative process, but it’s only one small part in a much larger picture of how ideas come to fruition.

In their research on “Deconstructing the Lone Genius Myth”, researchers Alfonso Montuori and Ronald E. Purser write:

“This modern view of creativity has venerated the artist or genius as a cultural hero, because he or she is someone who has forged something new and original by struggling against and rising above the limiting forces of the conforming masses… To maintain such a stance, the creative person must disengage him or herself from the environment. The resulting isolation is romanticized or even seen as being synonymous with genius.”

But the isolation we often reflect in the creative role is firstly figurative, not literal. In-fact, as Montuori and Purser go on to state, to try and be creative through isolation will greatly hinder the ability to think of effective solutions or ideas. Instead we must do the opposite of isolate ourselves:

“Creative individuals...have a greater tolerance for ambiguity and openness to experience. In other words, they are more open to their environment and find that the environment provides them with the context for creativity.”

It’s hard to create something in the absence of where that something will exist. You cannot, as an example, effectively come up with a new type of art if you don’t understand the world of art as it exists today. You’d fail to create if you weren’t first keenly aware of where the existing forms and processes fall short. You can’t solve a problem if you’re not completely understanding of what the problem is and why it’s a problem to begin with, and you cannot come to understand these things in isolation; with only one perspective you will only have a small picture of reality. What we instead need is a broad picture of the work to be done.

The researchers later state how creatives do not look to isolate themselves for the purpose of creative idea generation, but instead “actively pursue” the environments in which their ideas will be challenged or thrive.

Our best ideas are not the result of some hidden, inner insight, but rather the chemistry of our history, the culture around us, and the environment of the ideas themselves.

In his book Creative Intelligence, author Bruce Nussbaum echoes this sentiment by saying:

“As cool as ‘Aha moments’ are, and as interesting as it is to understand what parts of our brain are working when we’re improvising or solving a problem when we’re in the shower, creativity is about so much more than that moment...and it’s about so much more than the individual experiencing that moment. We increase our creative ability by learning from others, collaborating, sharing.”

So history and research studies have shown that the best ideas—the truly novel and impactful concepts—come not primarily from any one individual, but rather individuals tend to add an important personal layer to the existing concepts or perceptions of a larger community. Our best ideas stem from existing ideas outside ourselves, shaped by historical, cultural, and social exchanges.

Steven Johnson, in his iconic book Where Good Ideas Come From, underlines this notion that the best ideas come from not any single individual, but an individual as part of a whole:

"The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table…This is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. It’s not that the network itself is smart; it’s that the individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network.”

So if isolation isn’t the key to creative ideas, why do many experts and creative professionals remark on it so often? Because isolation may not be the critical component of creativity, it does play an important role.

Once we have a spark of an idea—by immersing ourselves in the environment that surrounds it—we should give ourselves time and space to let it grow, but only ever so slightly.

We do this through isolation: a walk in the park or a quiet morning meditation.

Albert Einstein cherished his moments of isolation, as he once shared: “Although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head.” Or as Tesla exclaimed: “The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind.”

The important thing here is that the stage of isolation—or idea incubation—isn’t the entire creative process in and of itself. When it comes to isolation: our ideas are best served by limiting that break to only brief intervals that will allow us to synthesize what we’ve taken in.

The purpose of a break is to take all of the noise of the work and world and quiet the incoming signals long enough for our brains to focus. But when there’s little to focus on—if we’ve been isolating ourselves too much—the exercise becomes futile.

Isolation helps us to limit the noise long enough to make sense of what we’ve taken in; it allows us to trim the mental fat, so to speak, in an effort to tune our mental abilities on the pieces that we can influence or which will influence us.

If you want to be creative your best served by not isolating yourself, but instead by immersing yourself in the environments, communities, and spaces where you can be inspired most. Only looking to temporarily isolate yourself once you’ve had enough time immersed in the world.



The role we play in being inspired

We’re most inspired when something fills the gap between what we know and what we don’t. Too often we lie to ourselves about what inspiration is and isn’t, much to our creative detriment.

Inspiration is, at its core, an enlightenment; the process of being exposed to something which connects the missing piece—or pieces—for us; between the known and unknown. Because of this, for any of us to be inspired requires two things:

  1. Some pre-existing level of knowledge or perspective

  2. Curiosity, or a drive to learn more

Despite this, we often, instinctively, mislead ourselves into believing the entirety of inspiration—or being inspired—has everything to do with what we don’t know and little to do with what we do. Our natural inclination is to miss that first part of the puzzle: some pre-existing information, perspective, or state.

We mislead ourselves about what inspiration is and how it works because we either like believing it’s more happenstance than it is work, or because we simply don’t understand its complexities. We want to believe inspiration is all about raw emotion and feeling, instinct and fortune, outside factors the universe may or may not deliver to us. When we think of inspiration as something outside our control, it takes the pressure off us.

Even professional artists, designers, or entrepreneurs, use a lack of inspiration as an excuse for why the project has been started, or finished, or why we struggle to come up with a new idea. Inspiration is an easy thing to blame in any of these situations: it’s often abstract, feely, vague and cloudy. If we’re not doing our best work we can put our hands up in the air and proclaim: “I’m just not inspired.”

In this frame of thinking—the most common perception—inspiration is entirely outside of us.

There isn’t anything critically wrong with thinking of inspiration as an external driver for having great ideas or feeling motivated, but if we take a minute to dig into what exactly inspiration is and how it works—and why we need to work with it rather than wait around for it—we set the stage for bringing inspiration into our work rather than waiting, or hoping, for it to strike.

What exactly is inspiration?

Thumb through any dictionary and you’ll likely find a succinct description: inspiration is the process of being stimulated, to do or feel something.

In science circles, inspiration is sometimes referred to as “spontaneous conceptualization,” a spontaneous and seemingly instantaneous singularity of thought. What was unknown is combined with the known in an instant. If this doesn’t invoke images of a lightbulb suddenly turning on overhead, I’m not sure anything else will.

We can be inspired by a talk, which spurs us to make a change in our work. Or inspired by the words in a book or blog post, which causes us to feel elated and enlightened or energized. We can look out at a beautiful sunrise or sunset and feel inspired to try and celebrate the little things in our lives more often. Or we might find a person who inspires us in some way: to do something different or better.

In creative work inspiration is often a deliberate tool used to provoke creative ideas or new work. In art, inspiration drives the business, causing the creator to act and produce or tinker and experiment.

Long ago in ancient Greece or Rome, inspiration was thought of as a gift given by the gods or muses. A divine ability only a select few—“geniuses”—were capable of possessing. The reason for this prominent belief is easy enough to understand: inspiration felt outside oneself.

It’s far easier to believe something we didn’t know a second ago but suddenly now know was the result of something outside ourselves than it is to believe our brains are the keepers of more than our consciousness is privy to.

So the Greeks believed in the all-knowing muse, and the muse would not visit everyone, nor the same person as they desire. Rather: inspiration was elusive, rare and valuable. It was not something you could generate on-demand, but required another—a muse, a woman, a god—in order to occur. This notion—of inspiration being external from ones self—has remained with us as a society even long after the old Greeks and Romans vanished.

In 19th century England poets and writers believed true inspiration could only come from poets, as they were the ones who were in-tune with divine voices. Today many Christians believe inspiration comes from a Holy Spirit, while writers and artists might think of inspiration as being driven by external chaos—or divine fury—as the celebrated author Ralph Waldo Emerson once did.

No matter how we look at it: inspiration is an energy. It comes swiftly and leaves us feeling euphoric or changed somehow. But the reality is inspiration is a difficult concept to explain and understand. The more we inch closer to revealing its secrets, the more uncertain we become about what we actually understand about it—and our brains. So we fallback to the belief that inspiration comes entirely from an external source of some kind. Muse, god, spirit, poet, or something else.

And really this belief, to think of inspiration as something outside ourselves, is almost instinctual. We aren’t necessarily taught to notice when we’re lacking in some area (though it may have been pointed out for a select few of us when we were younger), we simply detect and observe when someone has something we don’t: an idea, a trait, knowledge, intelligence, talents, or something else. And when we accomplish something we didn’t think we could, or when we become exposed to a thought or idea we hadn’t realized before, we feel as though that influence was something entirely outside ourselves. I am not capable of naturally doing something like this, we tell ourselves, so something else must have propelled me to do it.

What causes inspiration?

In their look into analyzing creativity—titled “Assessing highly‐creative ability”—researchers Rob Cowdroy of the University of Newcastle in Australia and Erik de Graaff of Delff University of Technology share the story of how black holes were first discovered and the role inspiration played in that event.

The story is short: in 1993, Stephen Hawking and Roger Penfold were able to compile research they had conducted on how black holes are generated and persist, a concept that radically changed how we once thought about the universe around us. Of the story, Cowdroy and de Graaff write:

“To cut a long story short, Penfold’s idea of black holes in the universe was entirely intuitive: it did not come directly from any conventional process of deduction or rational analysis; it came to him spontaneously and unexpectedly (he was in a pedestrian refuge waiting for a break in the traffic) and was entirely consistent with the spontaneous conceptualization at the source of many great creative works (vide Mozart’s spontaneous conceptualization of his requiem). Penfold’s concept presented an important new bridge between the General Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics. This first stage of the discovery of black holes was therefore both a significant piece of science research and an inspired (spontaneous) concept, and therefore was creativity at the highest level in the taxonomies of creativity.”

Penfold was able to intuit a theory for proving the existence of black holes… by watching traffic go by.

It’s important to look at what happened from his point of voice. Whenever we observe states—such as being uninspired then suddenly inspired—we should look at the variables that change. In Penfold’s case what took him from being uninspired to having some idea for how black holes are formed was that observation of the traffic flow around him and realizing the pattern that emerged.

What Penfold—and Hawking—lacked up until that moment was the perspective of patterns of movement light takes. Someone else, somewhere else, could have had the same epiphany. But the same observation would not have the same impact as it did on Penfold had he not already been thinking about light, gravity, and the relationship between the two. Once that knowledge was rattling around in his skull, all it took to formalize a theory of black holes was Penfold waiting for a break in traffic.

This is not an unusual pattern.

We see examples of this same type of event occurring repeatedly in cases where someone feels inspired. Most famously: the story of Archimedes and his discovery of measuring the density of an object using bath water, in which Archimedes—upon realizing his discovery—purportedly ran out into the streets naked shouting “Eureka!”

In any case what leaves these scientists, writers, inventors, and laypeople feeling inspired is the sudden revelation of an insight or idea, previously undisclosed. The revelation comes not from some otherworldly entity, but instead simple observation: the pattern of traffic in a busy street or the way the water in a bath tub rises when you lay into it.

So yes: when we feel as though something is missing, when we feel as though inspiration comes from outside of us, that is true.

But the missing thing isn’t necessarily a divine gift or an unusually high IQ; the missing thing is typically knowledge, observation, some data point. Even some notable Romans—Persius, Ovid, and Propertius—believed inspiration was not delivered by any type of external muse, but rather a well developed process which could invoke inspiration.

In art we often say that one style inspired another, one artist inspired the work of another. What does that mean in this context? It means the artist was able to connect what they knew (painting) with what they didn’t (creating more vibrant art, for example). They were inspired by being exposed to information—a perspective, a way of creating—they may not have considered before.

In other words: what we lack is not necessarily the abilities others have, the intelligence they’ve been born with, nor the blessing of some otherworldly power. What we lack more often than not is simply knowledge.

How do we get inspired?

If knowledge is all that keeps us from being uninspired—stuck on a problem or in a process—and inspired, the way to “get” inspired becomes much more straight-forward.

What caused Einstein to write his theory of relativity, or Picasso to paint the Girl Before A Mirror, or Steve Jobs and Woz to come up with the idea for Apple computer, is that they knew something you and I didn’t. They uncovered a bit of knowledge, or insight, that others overlooked or weren’t looking for in the first place. Or they experienced something only they could, having been in the “right place at the right time.”

Viewed under this new light, inspiration is not as random as you or I might think. Before inspiration can occur we must be prepared for it.

Looking at a work of art without understanding the nuances of the form, or what it represents, can leave you feeling less than inspired. Many people who were on the verge of a discovery failed to see it because they were focused on something else. The mathematical inventions of history could not have been predicted—at least synthesized so well—by a person who didn’t first understand the basics of math.

We cannot be inspired by that which has no relation to us. If the inspiration has nowhere to “stick” in our minds, it doesn’t become inspiration; it simply becomes trash art, or just another experience, or something we fail to understand.

“Insights shift us toward a new story, a new set of beliefs that are more accurate, more comprehensive, and more useful.”

That’s a quote from Gary Klein in his stellar book Seeing What Others Don’t.

When we have some foundational knowledge or experience—when we can look at the inspirational source and understand it in some capacity—we make room for what it presents and can then be “inspired.”

This is strikingly true for even the more emotional side of inspiration. When we look out at a beautiful sunset and feel that “inspired” feeling, the connection we’re getting is that of how mundane the rest of the day is compared to that limited-time sunset.

But, again, more often than not we don’t embrace this notion. We instead accept that inspiration is an event entirely outside our control. And while it’s true we don’t have to prepare to be inspired: if we want to be inspired more often in our lives what we must do is prepare.

Steve Jobs—love him or hate him—understood this point. He famously quipped on it by saying:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.”

All good and well, what do we actually do about it? If we want to get more inspiration in our life, how do we go about it?

In their book Creative Confidence, Tom Kelly and David Kelly give us a path forward:

“Interact with experts, immerse yourself in unfamiliar environments, and role-play scenarios. Inspiration is fueled by a deliberate, planned course of action.”

The thing is this: in order for inspiration to be truly “inspiring”—to compel us to act or move or feel deeply—it can’t be spoon fed to us. When we’re told the solution to a problem the process of discovery is lost. Nobody wants to solve an already completed puzzle. Or consider reading. Part of what makes a book so tantalizing is the fact we don’t know or understand the words on all of its pages until we’ve read it ourselves. The same is true for inspiration.

We have to put in the work: burying ourselves in the landscape, ruminating on the problem, writing or doodling or otherwise investing in the up-front work, then creating a plan to expose us to things that will help bridge the gap between what we know and what we don’t know. And often these inspirations will come from the least likely places. Our problems at work might be resolved by playing tinker toys with a child, or our lack of feeling energized may be resolved by exposing ourselves to those with lazier habits than we have. We won’t know until we build the foundational part of knowledge or perspective, then engage in new and different ways with the world around us.

Ultimately inspiration is outside of our control. But we can do things to invite it. In-fact: we should seek to do and think and act in ways that invite inspiration, not just wait around for it to come to us.