The Two Types of Inspiration (Are You Using Both in Your Work and Life?)

It’s easy to spend all day searching for inspiration. You can find incredible videos, articles, and news stories, and email them out to all of your friends. But the best (and longest lasting) type of inspiration comes from applying those outside bits of motivation to your own goals.

Make no mistake: it’s important to be a learner. Successful people in all fields soak up new information. They find inspiration and motivation in the work and success of others.

But here’s the problem: consuming the success and ideas of others is passive inspiration. Every time you watch a video, read an article, or listen to an interview, you’re practicing passive inspiration. You might learn something, but you don’t actually have to do anything. Hearing about other people’s success isn’t the same thing as creating your own.

Instead, it is through the process of active inspiration — the act of creating things, applying new ideas to our goals, and making mistakes — that we discover who we are and what is important to us. Furthermore, active inspiration is what results in long—term passion and enthusiasm. Watching someone else’s success might leave you feeling excited for a few minutes, but taking action and applying a new idea to your life will inspire you more than anything someone else could say.

Learning and listening can help you think about things in a different way, but creating, producing, and experimenting is what propels you forward. Passive inspiration can give you ideas, but active inspiration will give you momentum.

The Best Inspiration is Application

The inspiration is not the receiving of information. The inspiration is applying what you’ve received.
—Derek Sivers

If you come across a good idea, use it. We spend so much time trying to find more inspirational things to consume that it can be easy for us to forget that the best form of inspiration comes from what we create.

It’s about stumbling across a brilliant idea and bringing it to life in your work. It’s about finding a new strategy and applying it your own goals. It’s about learning a new exercise and adding it to your workout. The application of ideas will always be more powerful than the ideas themselves.

Too often we spend our lives consuming the world around us instead of creating it. Sure, there is some motivation in other people’s ideas, but don’t forget about the power your actions have to inspire you. The best inspiration comes from the application of ideas, not the consumption of them.

For more ideas on inspiration, check out these articles: how to get motivated, the difference between professionals and amateurs, how to get started, and the habits of successful people.

Shoutouts:
1. Derek Sivers wrote about inspiration and inspired me to write this post. Thanks Derek!