When we're actually by the ocean, the mountains, a gorgeous valley or meadow, we've allowed ourselves to get away. When we're in nature, we take time to relax and to breathe. As we view the landscape, we're still. Sometimes, we're even awe-struck. We find ourselves seeing beauty, power, majesty and sweetness in the scenery. We may not even realize that we can see and feel these qualities. When we soak up the beauty, we begin to restore ourselves and to find a new perspective to our lives. In short, we become inspired.
But how do we retain these qualities? How do we bring them back into the workplace? Obviously, we can't take a holiday every few weeks. How do we get away while we're on our jobs? The key is to remember that it is possible to restore oneself. Here's what I was told during an informal survey of 20 peers and colleagues. I asked the following questions: What do you do to stay inspired at work? How do you get yourself back on track when you're just going through the paces?
The mere act of asking these questions inspired some of the respondents. They remembered they didn't have to work with unnecessary stress. Many were inspired by remembering a past success or achievement they had accomplished—one that brought satisfaction to their lives. Others mentioned being inspired by the talent of fellow workers with whom they interact on a regular basis. Several also said the nature of their jobs served as an inspiration. And even though the stress intensified at times, they were renewed if they took the time to sit back and reflect for a moment. One person told me that his inspiration usually came from visualizing what he could create or accomplish either at work or outside of it.
Janet Colson, senior vice president of administrative services at La Jolla, California-based ScrippsHealth, and acting COO of ScrippsHealth System, recalls her most inspiring day: "The most inspiring workday I've ever experienced was the time I was working in the White House. It was the day former President Ronald Reagan was shot. I was inspired by the efficiency of the government and the military—and by the White House staff. It was touching to see how the public accepted Reagan as a person, not just as a political figure. In our sadness over the event, we were buoyed by Reagan's sense of humor, the gracious dignity by which the press secretary, Jim Brady, fought his way back to life. You know, people always talk about the White House and the Oval Office as the greatest places of power in the country. While it is that, on that day, I also saw its humanity, compassion and strength. I'm inspired to this day by remembering that time."
Colson also visualizes the future: "I'm inspired by reinventing myself, my position, my company. We're undergoing radical change, and I'm involved with moving us forward. I'm always thinking about how things can be better, what we can become. Now, that's thrilling."
Others spoke of inspiration from an internal point of view. Some responded that inspiration comes from getting in touch with their passion. One should ask: Why am I here? How can I make a difference?
Indeed, being inspired truly is an inside job. For within us is the ability to stop or to slow down ourselves when we're frazzled—and to open up to a different mindset than that of the hustle and bustle, stressful environments in which we all work and live. It's what's inside us that allows for inspiration.
Colson touched on her willingness to allow herself to take time out for reflection and to mull over different situations. Some of her best thinking, she says, occurs when she walks her dog. The exercise allows the opportunity for her mind to consider how to handle a difficult situation, to figure out solutions to problems—and still to enjoy the outdoors. She also tries to take one lunch break a week outside the office. Sometimes she sits at the beach, watching the waves. "It's such a restorative time. I'm much more inspired when I return," Colson says.
So let us remember that inspiration is possible at any time. We can give it to ourselves, and we can give it to others. Let's take the time to allow ourselves to be inspired. Let's give ourselves the gift of filling up ourselves with awe, wonder, peace and patience so we're centered. When we're inspired, we become motivated. When we're motivated, we achieve greater results.
Workforce, June 1997, Vol. 76, No. 7, pp. 139-140.