The Inspiration/Perspiration Equation
Inventor Thomas Edison said genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.
I think he got the numbers wrong when it comes to today’s creative and thinking professions.
It is likely closer to half and half in today’s world with its labor-saving devices. Our major challenge today is to imagine what can be done, to innovate on what exists and create what does not, and then determine how we can use automation and technology to make it happen.
Having said that, all the successful artists, writers, entrepreneurs and professionals I know are highly disciplined and organized. They show up and they do the work that needs to be done every day.
Playwright and educator Anna Deavere Smith, in her treasure of a book called Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-Up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts for Actors, Performers, Writers and Artists of Every Kind, goes as far as to label discipline as the single most important anchor of identity for creative people.
She refers to it as “the essential material out of which they craft the building blocks of how they define themselves.
“What we become – what we are – ultimately consists of what we have been doing – what we eat, what we drink, how we have been moving.”
She encourages those who would succeed to find ways to bring self-discipline, aka perspiration, into their work life, noting that such a regime will show in your work.
“Start now, every day, becoming, in your actions, your regular actions, what you would like to become in the bigger scheme of things,” she urges.
I know from my own busy work schedule that without the discipline to simply get going and do the work that stems from my imagination every day, I would have nothing but a headful of unfulfilled ideas. But organizing, prioritizing and doing bring creative ideas to life and allows my work to continue.
I am not suggesting you must arise at 5 a.m. and work out every morning to keep your mind sharp, or retire every night at 8 p.m. to read research papers or provocative articles to keep your mind disciplined, but I do think a kind of routine is important.
That routine has to include respect for your body in terms of nutritious food and reasonable exercise, and respect for your mind by allowing time to think and study and fill up the creative well.
If you live only by a task list, you will end each day exhausted and ultimately deplete your energy. But if you live only by thoughts and ideas, you will end each day equally dissatisfied because you are not bringing your creativity to the light and letting it be seen by yourself and others.
When we talk of a balanced life, I think that is the real meaning. It is not how many hours we spend doing one thing or another, but it is how we manage to incorporate all the aspects of our being into a lifestyle that leaves us room to breathe and grow, while still accumulating an impressive pile of completed creative projects.
Take some time to determine what kind of balance of inspiration and perspiration is needed in your own life to produce what you require to keep yourself and your business afloat, and yet still allow you to sail forward to new destinations and accomplishments.
There is no perfect formula that fits everyone, but there is a perfect formula for you. You have to keep experimenting until you get the equation right.
Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion. 24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
Check out Paula’s best selling books: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and due to be released December 6th “Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
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