What Inspires You

Posted: August 3, 2014 by Chuck Matthews in Innovation, Leadership, People

Dr. Chuck MatthewsThere is nothing impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”Audrey Hepburn

Summer is a reflective time. I enjoy the long days and still nights, especially when there is cool breeze, fireflies, and a star lit sky. Too often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day activities and forget how important it is to pause and reflect on where we are, where we are going, and how we plan to get there. I hadn’t really thought about it in a while, but of course that gave me an excuse to stop and consider the importance of the sources of inspiration and renewal in our lives. We draw inspiration from all that is around us and use that energy to transform our work and our leisure.

This is especially true in the start-up and/or the running a small or high growth venture. Entrepreneurs are the busiest people on the planet, juggling multiple tasks, deadlines, and putting out a myriad of fires on a daily basis. They are inundated with advice, information, facts, figures, sales pitches, and more all on top of rapidly changing technology that is often more confusing than time saving.

So the questions become, what can you do to renew yourself? Prepare for what is next? What are your favorite sources of inspiration? What can you do to maintain balance between day-to-day pressures and thinking ahead to what might be? Here are seven Summer sources of inspiration and renewal.

  1. Showering. Admit it, you do some of your best thinking in the shower. The problem of course is that those great thoughts often disappear down the drain with the soapy water. The key here is to keep a notepad and pen handy just in case you want to jot down that thought.
  2. Just 15 to 30 minutes a day can make a big difference in your outlook on life. I have a dog that takes me for a walk twice a day whether I need it or not. Sometimes I walk with a purpose, to get somewhere, buy a cup of coffee. Other times I walk just to stretch and see what is around, look at the sunset, watch the clouds, reflect on a thought. One of my favorites from Maya Agelou, “Try to be a rainbow to someone’s cloud.” Try walking in the rain, or someplace new and watch the people, the architecture, the landscape.
  3. Reading. Work reading can really get tedious, so I often combine a 30 minute walk with 15 minutes of reading something non-work related. In 2008, on one of my trips to China, I began reading the Tao Te Ching by Loa Tzu, and I have been reading and re-reading it ever since. It speaks on many levels about humility, leadership, life balance, and more. I am inspired by the legend of the Old Master on his journey recording his thoughts at the age of 80.

Trying something new. This is perhaps the most daunting source on any list. There is a certain amount of fear in trying something new, but it can also be the most rewarding. You won’t know if you like it or not until you try it, but at least you tried it. Food, sports, exercise, travel and more all hold promise for something new. Perhaps it is your “bucket list” calling you to explore new people, places, and things.

Working out. Two or three times a week I hit the pool to swim laps. I have goals, time and distance and so forth, but more often than not, I just swim for thirty minutes. Remember exercise is cumulative, the first time I could barely swim one lap, let alone swim a mile. Whenever I am asked, what is the best exercise? I always say, “The one you will do!”

Sleeping/Dreaming. With the day-to-day grind, we often don’t get enough sleep. Research suggests, however, that sleep is can improve our alertness, attention, and activity. Every now and then, I wake up and remember something I dreamed. The key once again is to keep a notepad and pen handy, write it down and go back to sleep. Even daydreaming can be a source of creativity and inspiration, just don’t do it when the task at hand requires your full attention!

What are you doing to inspire and renew yourself? You are your company’s most valuable asset and in being inspired you just may find you are inspirational as well. Till next time, all the best for continued entrepreneurial success!

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