What to Do When Inspiration is Lacking

By: Chris Skaggs | @chrislskaggs


Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as (a) a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation, (b) the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions, and (c) the act of influencing or suggesting opinions. We’ve all been there before. Those times when we feel like we are just going through the motions. Maybe we don’t have a real sense of purpose or direction and just feel generally uninspired.

During the early 1980s, Chris Gardner – an American businessman, investor, stockbroker, motivational speaker, author, and philanthropist – struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son. Doesn’t ring a bell? If not, let’s try this – Will Smith played Chris Gardner in the 2006 motion picture, The Pursuit of Happyness. We’re on the same page now. Right?

I love the quote in the movie when he is talking to his son and says, “Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something, not even me. Alright? You dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”

We all could use someone like Chris Gardner in our lives – someone telling us to keep going and keep dreaming. But, truth is, we all get stuck sometimes. In case you need help finding your own Chris Gardner, here are a few tips on where to look when inspiration is lacking.

Sometimes, the stars align and we work for an incredibly inspirational boss. Perhaps it’s the way she handles uncomfortable situations or the way he carries himself that makes you want to model every career move you make after him or her. If you’ve been gifted with this rare gift, take advantage and see if he or she will be your mentor. Watch not only how they do their job, but how they treat other people, peers and customers. Learn from them and take it all in.

Sometimes, it might not even have to be your direct supervisor or manager. If they aren’t inspirational enough, look at other top leaders in your company. There is no rule saying Tim the security guard can’t learn from Brenda, the vice president of sales. While Tim might not learn the latest and greatest security guard practices from Brenda, he could absolutely be inspired and learn the best persuasive techniques.

Bottom line: inspiration can be found from any number of people at your company, sometimes it just requires you to look in unorthodox places.

What’s that? You don’t work for the most inspiring people? That might have been an easy excuse in years past; however, in today’s digital world, we have nearly unlimited access to people of all different levels, at all different companies. Don’t believe me? I just tweeted @mcuban – do I have your attention now?

Social media is a powerful tool in your arsenal when looking for inspiration from other business leaders. In a strange way, sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow all of us access to each other’s companies. We can experience keynotes and company addresses that previously were only made available to direct employees. Because of this, we can learn a variety of best practices that we can in return use at our own companies. Some of the best minds on the planet are incredibly active on social media – sometimes you just need to know how to search. Typing in #mondaymotivation on Instagram or #inspiration on Twitter can help you find some great sources of inspiration.

Inspiration doesn’t have to come from your career network. Instead, look at your family. Just like your mom or dad inspired you growing up, they can be great inspirations now. Grandparents can also be a wealth of information. In their lifetime, the world has changed significantly and sometimes inspiration can come from learning how they dealt with that change and real adversity.

But it doesn’t always have to be a family member that is older than you – inspiration can come from the tiniest humans. Children have an innocence about them that is hard to replicate. They remind us what it’s like to laugh, love and have fun. I love seeing my children experience this world we live in and their constant inquisition makes me proud and inspired every day.

I’m also personally reminded of a time when my four-year old niece donated $20.00 of her own money that she worked hard to earn to our charity. Instead of purchasing something for herself, she wanted to give to others who had far less. If you can’t find inspiration in that, you might want to head to the doctor because you might also not have a heart!

Finally, on this journey to cure your lack of inspiration, don’t forget about yourself. Perhaps you simply need to take a break from our high-paced society to recharge yourself. Journaling is a great way to disconnect and gather your thoughts. Instead of focusing on the negative and our weaknesses, look at the positive things that are happening in your life and celebrate your strengths. Inspiration might be buried deep within sometimes, but often all you need to do is look inward.

No matter what, being 100% inspired, 100% of the time is unrealistic. There is something very important to remember when looking at each of these sources of inspiration. Simply looking, thinking and talking about inspiration is not enough, true inspiration takes action. Action requires energy and when you are truly inspired, this energy can come from anywhere. Once you feel fully inspired, don’t let it fizzle – it’s a powerful force that can cause great things to happen for you.