If you were looking for a quiet evening out, would you go to a football match? Exactly – and if you are looking for inspiration, you would probably not expect to find loads of it at work.
We know the signs – when we are inspired energy surges through our bodies as we come really alive. We gain a laser focus that cuts through all the crap so we can see what is truly important. And we feel a sense of connection with the world around us in a fulfilling way; we know we are part of something worthwhile. We don’t see much of this in the workplace.
Surveys consistently highlight that two-thirds of people do not enjoy their work. For them, energy is low and motivation is minimal. Even in the remaining third, many are uninspired. In most cases the workplace is an inspiration desert. But it also means this is where inspiration is desperately needed!
Curiously, there seems to be a barrier that stops this happening in the workplace. Take the example of Clare who is a talented singer and actor. Outside work she is inspired by the parts she has in many musicals to a standard to rival many professional productions. Yet she is does not bring the skills and qualities from this part of her life into work. In fact she keeps the whole thing a secret because she feels that it would damage her credibility.
Like Clare, many people don’t bring themselves to work; they bring a hollowed-out shell. They might have pictures of the family on the desk, engage socially with colleagues and get on with the tasks in hand, but there is a big chunk missing.
I once worked with Mike who seemed a quiet, unremarkable chap who had his head down most of the day, working in his corner of the office. After some months, quite by chance, I discovered that he was a keen carp fisherman. When he was talking about his fishing expeditions he became a different person! He was alive with stories of camping at night by the water and the thrill of the catch.
Mike kept the two parts of his life – working and fishing – completely separate. Obviously it is silly to imagine him putting up a tent or casting a line in the office but what would happen if he brought some of the qualities from his fishing to work? For instance, there would be the patience of waiting for the bite, the sensitivity to the environment, the creativity of different strategies and the determination to land the catch. These transferable skills are all valuable.
Three key questions:
1. What activity inspires you most outside of work?
2. What talents and strengths do you use when you do this? (List them)
3. Which answer to question 2 will you take to work this week?
No one expects you to wear your heart on your sleeve and there will be areas of your life that are private. Yet the more of you that you bring to work, the more scope there is for you to be inspired. Instead of conforming to the lowest common denominator, you can take the lead.