Before I start writing or working on a new project I read articles and books from some of my favorite authors, business leaders, and teachers. Why? Not to steal their ideas, but to find inspiration. After reading I never write on the same topic that I just read about, I am not looking to retool other people’s ideas. I simply need to be refueled and reenergized myself. As I read I often jot down notes and comments about the little nuggets I find. Again this is not so that I can later make the ideas my own. Reading other people’s great work helps me center myself and get motivate to create my own attempt at a masterpiece. Here is the key, I only read people who can write better than me. If I start reading something and am immediately hit with thoughts of how much better I am; I stop reading. I really want to be inspired; I want to be horrified that I did not come up with the concept myself. I don’t read to pat myself on the back with thoughts of how much better I am, I read to set the bar higher for my own work.
The sad thing is that I think most people are afraid of inspiration. They don’t really want to be challenged they want to be reaffirmed. I started off that way, only reading stuff that confirmed my theories and my work. I would get done reading and feel so proud of myself, because I now knew that I was on the right track. Problem was that it never moved me forward. Hearing that I was doing the right things never encouraged me to start doing great things. Affirmation is wonderful; we all need a pat on the back from our fans. But, we also need to be challenged.
We get the two mixed up, inspiration and affirmation. I talk to so many people who tell me about a great conference, a great sermon, or a great book. When I ask what inspired them, they tell me it proved that they were on the right track or that it motivated them to just keep plugging along. So sad, that’s not inspiration! That’s just blowing smoke around. Real inspiration hits you at your core; it causes a thirst in you that demands to be quenched. Real inspiration challenges everything that you are and yells that there is a better way, a higher road. No one needs to be inspired to keep the status quo; that happens with very little effort. In all reality, you may be on the right track, but you can always build a newer and faster train. Without opening yourself up to real inspiration, constant affirmation will certainly make you feel good along your journey. But, it won’t change you, and though you are on the right track, you may never gain enough speed to get to your destination.