To do good work, we often reach for a vague thing we call inspiration. It’s hard to pin it down, but you know it when you see it. Inspiration adds joy and meaning to the process of creation, whether you’re producing an aria or a PowerPoint presentation.
Sounds simple enough. So why is it that some of us are visited by only rare and fleeting spurts of inspiration, while others seem permanently driven by a grand sense of purpose? The answer may lie partly in demographics. A survey LinkedIn conducted of its members showed that women under age 29 tend to feel less inspired in general than their male peers, but that changes as they age, with women older than 65 feeling considerably more inspired than men.
What line of work you’re in also seems to matter. Creative jobs or jobs in the public interest tend to inspire people more than others, with professionals in fine arts, religious institutions and non-profit management rating their inspiration highest.
So what do you do if you fall into one of those less inspired groups, or you’ve found yourself in an unenthusiastic spell at work? One option: Turn to the 60 LinkedIn Influencers who contributed their thoughts on inspiration for this month’s feature series, “What Inspires Me.”
We’re always curious about how business heavyweights and industry thought leaders find and maintain their success. What we found after thought leaders across industries weighed in, is that consistently productive people know that they can’t wait for the perfect moment to get work done, so they keep symbols and ideas close to them that keep them motivated.
The sources of those ideas vary widely, but virtually no one in the series disputed the importance of being inspired. For some, inspiration is a memorable phrase, for others, a jarring or enlightening experience. Still others find inspiration in a key individual or group of people in their lives. Some found themselves turning back to the same work of art, piece of literature or dramatic moment again and again to re-ignite their drive. In the list below and in the full series, you’re bound to find a nugget that can inform the way you work.
People as inspiration
- Peter Greenberg, travel editor at CBS News, on what his mother taught him about the importance of talking to everyone (hint: it’s about more than just being nice).
- HotelTonight CEO and co-founder Sam Shank on his grandfather’s work ethic.
- Steve Tappin, CEO of Xinfu, on Sir Harvey Jones, the “European equivalent of Jack Welch” in the 1980s.
- Consultant and author Chester Elton on a radio station manager who made homeless people smile.
- Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson on what he calls “game-changing people,” including the Virgin Galactic Team.
- Steve Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman on the ear-to-ear scar that’s a constant reminder of his childhood brain surgery, and how that shapes his worldview.
- CNBC anchor Herb Greenberg on the sting of an early career rejection and its motivating power.
- Caryn Seidman Becker, chairman and CEO of CLEAR, on New York’s unity in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Inspiration via art, music and sports
- Claire Diaz-Ortiz, manager of social innovation at Twitter, on why she reads not a few, but 200 books every year.
- Beyond Philosophy CEO Colin Shaw on the huge impact hearing Pink Floyd for the first time had on him.
- Venture capitalist Esther Dyson on what she took away from the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
Read them all, and then tell us what inspires you: What do you do to get over the hump when inspiration is out of reach?
Featured on: What Inspires Me
Posted by: Francesca Levy
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