When you saw the title of my article, you may have filled in the blank with the word lightning. Or, more curiously, the word inspiration or creativity.
The word I see in the blank is inspiration. Is it the great, elusive frontier we’re forever chasing as creatives? Some insurmountable peak we’ll passionately clamour to get to the top of? Maybe it’s as overused as a Trump punchline at a cocktail party. Let’s get out of the realm of assumptions, and get down to the nitty gritty.
A quick Google search on the word inspiration yields the following:
“Inspiration: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”
To give us a baseline for how you feel inspired, answer this question with the first thing that comes to mind: I feel inspired: ________.
Maybe you’re inspired by being in nature. Or playing with your kids. Alternatively, you could find inspiration when you’re travelling, when you’re in solitude, or when you’re doodling mindlessly. Maybe you are inspired by something, like an Emily Carr painting, or a TED talk.
Whatever ignites your inspiration, make note of it.
So, this seems easy! All we need to do is make note of what inspires us, soak in those experiences, and we’ll be on our way to writing and designing award-winning work, developing killer marketing ideas, and offering the best of the best to our customers. Right?
Nope. Not even close.
Anders Ericsson, Swedish psychologist and professor of psychology at Florida State University, shared in his book Peak, “deliberate practice is the key to achieving high levels of performance in any field.” You may have come across this principle in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, which shares the 10,000-hour rule, loosely translated to: if you put 10,000 hours of practice into anything, you’ll become an expert.
So….inspiration means….bupkis? Can you achieve creative greatness in marketing through the striking of inspiration only, or do you need to practice your craft, or maybe both?
I believe New York Times columnist David Brooks blended these thoughts and expressed it best: “Dogged work is the prerequisite of success. Yet there are some moments- after much steady work and after technical skills have been mastered- when the mind and spirit take flight. We call these moments of inspiration. They kind of steal upon you, longed for and unexpected.”
So, for entrepreneurs, marketers, and creatives, what can we do to strike our own balance between hard, focused efforts and the magical moments when inspiration strikes?
Practice your Craft- Nothing will ever take the place of putting your nose to the grind, especially when it comes to honing your craft. Like Ericsson and Gladwell shared, deliberate practice is pivotal to achieving the status of expert in your chosen field.
Create the Atmosphere- Remember the little test from the beginning of the article? When you answered the question, “I feel inspired when: _______”? Be deliberate and intentional in creating an atmosphere for inspiration. Carve time out within your day to set the tone.
Stealing is Okay- Pablo Picasso famously said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” There are very few, if any, new ideas under the sun. Steve Jobs, legendary creative with Apple, said “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” When inspiration strikes, you may not be reinventing the wheel, and that’s okay. However, bear in mind while you’re busy creating the next best thing, that truly copying something is likely to get you in trouble with trademark laws and other things Picasso likely never had to deal with. When inspiration strikes, look at ways to tweak the idea and make it better and more impactful.
When inspiration strikes, go with it. As a creative professional, be intentional about carving out time and space to play to your strengths and grow them. And remember, let your mind and spirit take flight and embrace the moment when hard work meets magic and inspiration comes alive.
Looking for inspiration? Be sure to join 1450 Marketing Collective at our upcoming events! Pecha Kucha 2 is scheduled for Thursday, September 21, 2017 at Vic Juba Community Theatre. Plus, we’re thrilled to bring Edmonton's Beverley Theresa, a social media strategist, to Lloydminster for our October event Social Media isn’t About You.
About the Author
Kristine Knourek is the co-founder of 1450 Marketing Collective. During the day, you can find her hustling in her marketing job with Lloydminster & District Co-op.
After hours, she’s either on the soccer pitch (as a coach and player), spending time with loved ones, or teaching her pet hamster, Pietro, tricks.