Inspiration SchmispirationWed, 12th Apr '06, 11:20 pm::
While chatting online today, Tay mentioned something about inspiration. A lot of people love to be inspired. After all, nothing pumps more energy into your youthful ambitious bloodstream than the words of a "successful" achiever in your field. You can see what the pro has accomplished and as a rising star you want to get there faster and shine brighter. Or maybe you're not the alpha-male type. You just want to encapsulate yourself in the glowing warmth of inspiration and ascend towards the apex with a Buddhist sense of omniscient calm. After all, if they did it, so can you! And they said that repeatedly in their hour long self-realization speeches.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I don't like to be inspired. I'm not saying inspiration is good or bad, just saying if given the choice, I prefer not to be inspired. Just like wealth, hardwork, and genius, inspiration appears to be a very good measure of the potentiality of success. Clearly a person inspired to change the world has more chance of achieving that than someone who cares not one bit and has no inspiration to leave a mark on the planet. Just like how everyone who is rich is successful, how every person who works hard always wins, and how every genius is recognized for his or her intellect by the masses. Right? No, you say? I guess then inspiration isn't that good of a barometer either, is it?
Other than a momentary appreciation of self-worth and an inflated sense of personal capabilities, inspiration doesn't really do much, especially in the long term. Great, so you just watched an amazing play or read a touching autobiography. Or you went to see a famous CEO talk about how he grew his company from his garage to over 100 countries in under five years. Wow! Nobody can deny that such growth is anything short of impressive. But is it inspirational? Will you go home and realize "if he can do it, so can I?!"
Like this sarcastic Despair poster says, "If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon." Inspiration is just motivation to dream big. Shame on you if you did not automatically think you could turn your 5-person company to a 500-people multi-national and instead needed some guy to come in for an hour and teach you how to dream.
If going to a 30-minute seminar on financial planning inspires me to change my lifestyle entirely, I'd say I'm ashamed of how I was spending and planning money before. I should've realized it on my own that I was bad with finances instead of having someone tell me I've been wrong all my life in just half-an-hour. What I AM in favor of, is of course, education. If going to this financial planning seminar taught me how to better plan my retirement, more power to me. But if I need to go to a "Retirement-Planning Info-Meet" to realize that hey, someday I'm going to be 65 and I just might need money for food, then well, I'm a pretty stupid person to begin with.
Most people get inspired from momentary experiences. A speech, a book, a movie, a play. While I love change and always welcome something small changing my entire outlook on everything, I think if an intro-book about bio-genetics is all I need to inspire me to give up computers forever and take up bio-genetics as my new career path, then wow, where was I last ten years while the Human Genome Project sequenced the DNA?
Maybe, people will not feel the need to be inspired if they just keep their eyes open and see what's happening every single day. In today's world, you only get inspired if [a] some amazingly major breakthrough occurs (very very rarely) or [b] you have been living in a cave for years (most probably) and just realized that you can draw pictures on back of business cards and actually make money selling them!
I guess I feel the need to not be inspired for two reasons. Firstly, as I hinted above, the state of being inspired isn't very productive. There is a state of feeling excited and ambitious that IS indeed productive. If I realize I can connect my old and new database systems using a simple tool, I am not inspired, I'm simply excited and well, feeling quite ambitious about accurate data migration, because now I know I can. When I was inspired, I wanted to make the world a better place by writing an email client that worked in different Indian languages; currently nobody I know uses this software that took me months to code. When I was not-inspired, but rather just indifferent and in need of a small simple music player, I wrote one within days that well, just played music; over 2 million downloads in last six years and counting. Inspiration, big dreams, and castles in the sky haven't made me famous yet. Creating tools that make others' lives easy, help me though.
Secondly, and primarily, I like to dream my own dreams and I like to dream big. You cannot quite possibly insert your dreams into my head and somehow show me that I didn't dream big enough. That is just not possible. I've already thought of every single thing that I can quite possibly do as a human, rather as a super human. I've calculated what I need physically, mentally, and financially to climb Mt. Everest and definitely looked into forming my own Antarctic sub-station. I've thought about giving up everything I have so I can save the baby seals and I've considered spending my life travelling throug the villages of India teaching young and old about computers, math, and science. However, I'm not rushing to start work on my online digital-life-management suite or take up International Relationships to get a seat on a UN sub-committee for Economic Development of South-East Asia.
I guess you can call me uninspired and unmotivated. After all, I could potentially be doing any of the above yet I'm spending my spare time filling a big hole in my backyard every day so it stops looking like the surface of Mars. Lack of inspiration alright. I believe short of a few physical/mental limitations, pretty much anyone can do anything. Inspiration is basically you realizing that "HEY! I can do it too!" Well guess what? I've already realized that I can do anything I have my mind set on. And so can you! The sooner you realize that, the better it is. Inspiration is just a stage you have to go through to come to the best part of your life - actually doing things that you really want to do! Creating, molding, finishing. Above all, choosing. I choose to fix my backyard myself instead of helping cute little kitties at the pet shelter get their vaccines and medicines.
Right now, you too could be doing any particular thing from a selection of thousands of things that you have been inspired to do - writing songs, sketching meadows and hills, planning marketing campaigns to overthrow your competition, or joining a sports club. But instead, you chose to be here and read my blog. Why? Not because you've never had the inspiration to do something bigger, better, and nobler. But rather because given your particular situation in life, reading this 'blog entry is something you want to do. Inspiration can only tell you what you can potentially do. Freewill and choice is what actually determines what you do in life.
None of these inspiration-arousing speakers were talking about being inspired when they were struggling like you and I. They did not do whatever they did solely because someone inspired them or because they wanted to change the world. They did it and then realized, "Hey, maybe I can help inspire others to change the world like I did." I'm not the one to doubt anyone's intentions but it's like saying, "Hey! Now that I have completed this one particular crossword, let me give you all the words that I used so you can try to jam them into your own unique crossword puzzle and see if you can solve it." Then you go home all inspired because now you have words like seamlessness, fluidity, and ideation that you try to jam into every open row and column. Not gonna work. Get a dictionary and you'll have every word. The only way to win is to figure out which words you need, not which word you can force in.
In short, don't do something because you're blindly inspired to do it. Do it because that is the thing you want to do the most out of a list of million other things you can potentially do. And if that leads to success, more power to you. If it doesn't lead to success, at least you did something you wanted to do of your own volition.