I’m often asked where I find my inspiration. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Of course, I am always inspired by my work, my clients, and the diverse people I connect with every day. I even find there’s nothing more motivating than helping others overcome obstacles, enhance their organizations, and achieve their goals.
However, caring leaders have to source their energy from places outside of their work as well. If your mind is firmly locked within the four walls of the office, you’ll have a significantly harder time coming up with creative solutions, replenishing your energy levels, and fortifying a sense of self-worth independent of your job performance.
So where should you look for that inspiration? I argue that sometimes you don’t even need to look in the first place. By that I mean, inspiration often reveals itself to us when we least expect it. We’ve all experienced the phenomenon of “shower thoughts,” or getting your best ideas in the shower when your mind is seemingly turned off. If you’re desperately searching for epiphanies, your overthinking might be scaring them off.
Just the other day, I was sitting on the couch, becoming visibly stressed out as I went through my mental to-do list. Like most of us, the list felt neverending. My ten-year-old son noticed my anxiety, and suddenly said, “Don’t worry about any of that. Lay down, take a few deep breaths, and breathe all those things out of your mind and let them go, and everything will be alright, okay?” Naturally, I was taken aback by his precociousness, but I went along with his suggestion. “Are you teaching me about meditation right now?” I asked, and he replied, “Yeah, about mindfulness, Mama.”
Sure enough, a moment of quiet reflection did me good, and I was grateful that my youngest child was there to pull me out of my spiral and grant me the time and space I needed to recenter my focus. Of course, this is a great reminder of how much we can learn from our children, but there’s a larger universal message here as well. Teachers, instructors, and educators are quite literally all around us. Caring leaders know that life’s most teachable moments often arrive outside the workplace, usually without the fanfare of a grand “Eureka!” moment. It’s our job to take those lessons and leverage them towards improving those we lead. Whichever experiences are fueling those “a-ha” moments are what make your perspective truly unique and needed.
Inspiration not only gives us new ideas for possible innovation, but it also replenishes our energy levels and reminds us of our core purpose in whichever field we choose. This element of self-care is critical, as caring leaders must fill up their own emotional/mental cup so they can continue to pour from it for the benefit of others. Whether you find inspiration in art, nature, literature, food, family, or even reality television, carve out time in your schedule to hold space for the things that bring you joy and excitement. Take note of those places where you get your best “shower thoughts,” and save them for when you need an extra boost of encouragement. Welcome those little moments back into your life—even if it seems counterproductive—and I promise the creative and emotional return will be worth the small investment.