Owning Your Inspiration
Diversifying motivators for the work-stretched Global Creative usually means limiting your dependency on adrenaline to get things done. Adrenaline is a wonderful focusing agent and activator for tasks but if you rely too much on adrenaline you may slip into ARC where the negatives of stress and worry outweigh the benefits of sprint-style work. In Coursing a Path to Inspiration, I suggest developing two excellent motivators to complement the fast burst of adrenaline – curiosity and inspiration. So the tools we have are:
• Adrenaline for the tight spots and quick sprints • Curiosity as the bridge between adrenaline and inspiration • Inspiration for the long engagement intentions – Big Rocks
We all know what adrenaline looks and feels like. It is often mistaken for a flow state. It is more of a ‘hunting state’ that our ancestors depended on to bring dinner to the table. Inspiration on the other hand is subtler and more difficult to quantify. Like the distant mountain range in a Frederic Church landscape it is more of a constant presence in the background of our lives. Adrenaline on the other hand resides in the extreme close foreground of our view shed. We all know inspiration when we see it but leading a life where inspiration is a constant can be more of a challenge. Instead of trying to define inspiration or ‘hack’ inspiration I suggest a practice in four areas that will get you closer to understanding what inspiration is for yourself. In this way we leverage curiosity to create a foray into the world of inspiration.
The Four Elements of Inspiration Practice:
Refueling in your own sanctuaries
Connecting with positive and supportive relations
Articulating your own vision through your own voice
Practicing your craft to a level of mastery
Notice there are 2 parts to each of these 4 elements – a specific activity or action in a unique environment.
The first truth of practicing the four elements is that there are no short cuts here. Mastering a model like this will take time and effort. I feel I am somewhere in my sophomore stage with this practice. I know just enough to know that it is important to stay with the program! The second truth is that it takes a dose of courage to believe you deserve to have these elements in your life. ADHD fools us into thinking we are always behind and need to rush. ADHD also disrupts our ability to build a strong sense of self - a robust self-esteem. We often place higher value on our latest completion (or failure) and forget who we are since ADHD has us value ‘doing’ over ‘being’. ADHD can make you think “I have no time to refuel!”. It also seems that ADHD can no longer be the sole claimant of this statement. A 'shortage of time' seems to be developing into a ubiquitous American belief.
With ADHD and circular thinking, insidious negative self-talk can suggest that you are not worthy of awesome relationships, that somehow you should just tolerate the rushing, the constant feeling of being behind, the demeaning and toxic people in your life. Forgiveness and acceptance are stations you must visit to live a full life with ADHD and also to live a life based in inspiration. Only when you decide you can have these positive elements in your life will you be successful in practicing them. It's not enough to just 'step over a line' and commit. Let owning your inspiration be a part of a gradual on-boarding process like The 6Cs.
Examples of Each
Refuel in sanctuary – For me nature is my go-to sanctuary. I used to lead adventure trips to the Pacific Northwest and I feel quite comfortable in the back-country. I live 20 minutes from Shenandoah National Park and try to get up to there when I can with my family but I access this touchstone everyday by just walking my dog along a seldom used country road that courses through a stand of poplars and oaks on a mountain ridge 5 minutes from my house. Mountain biking with my son is another great way that I refuel. A morning routine can be an excellent place to practice this element too. My clients will mix meditation, prayer, journaling and exercise for the best results.
Connecting with positive and supportive relations – Currently I am working with 2 high functioning teams. The focus of each is very different but the environments are similar. The relationships are built on mutual trust and respect with a collective focus on positive change. Now, I basically excuse myself from any type of negative engagement, exercising choice to the fullest.
Articulate your own vision through your own voice – Fellow coach and mentor Russell Colver and I used to joke we were “Shy Guy and Shadow Woman” when we would, with some initial hesitation, present together back in the early 2000s. Only through presentation and sharing our thoughts did we realize that there was a market for our thoughts. ‘Playing Bigger’ has been a stretch for me for sometime yet the more I share the more I realize that there is an audience for what I have to say. More important, articulating my vision allows the vision to live in a very different way outside of my head.
Practice your craft to a level of mastery – When things don’t add up for an individual who is wired for context, it can create a kind of ‘context dissonance’. My early teaching days were filled with this dissonance as I (pre-ADHD dx) struggled to understand why my brain didn’t work like other brains. Why, for instance, did other teachers manage the logistics of teaching almost effortlessly and yet for me the logistics of tracking individual student performance seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle? Amidst the challenge I leaned into my strength areas of creative lesson delivery. Every class was an opportunity to reach and inspire students. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I fell flat on my face, but for 13 years prior to my foray into the adult learning field of training coaches, I showed up in front of the students honing my craft.
Big Learning – You are already being successful here
As I explore these four elements now in my life, I realize that I have been getting valuable experience in each element over the years. Prior to ‘wiping the slate clean’ and starting anew, take credit for the practices that you have experienced over the years. An immediate benefit and source of inspiration can be just to acknowledge the good things that are already happening. This is a presence-based practice. Be fully aware of this intention as you practice bringing more inspiration into your daily life. Just thinking about this proactively and with curiosity is a good place to begin. Become more curious about how your brain works and doesn't work. Focus more on leveraging your strengths than fixing the weaknesses.
Start by identifying opportunities and strengthening current or past practices. Embrace a practice mindset. And finally make more inspiration a true intention.