Have you ever had a person in your life that makes you feel that everything is possible? Someone who achieved their balance in life and makes you wonder “How the hell did he do that?” by capturing your interest, or maybe a thought slipped in your mind “If they can do it- I can do it”. Yes, we have all felt this sensation of bravery and insurance of our own decisions in terms of the ability to express ourselves independently. That’s inspiration.
What is inspiration?
Witnessing someone else’s success through an unknown but somehow attractive approach to us can make us feel inspired. Being inspired wouldn’t necessary relate to our desire to have the same outcome but more to the way it was achieved. This can be someone more senior at work, your personal trainer, an article in the newspaper about Success, a TV programme about someone’s story or your teacher. People tend to be impressed by other people’s attainments especially if it matches their style of doing things. Designers and developers often get inspired by other people’s creations. Many radical innovations have provided stepping stone for other enthusiastic individuals to feel comfortable and try do the same.
First-mover advantage is well known business term which can be seen in many unique inventions that changed our lives (“the” touch-screen”, solar system, softwares etc.). On the other hand, however, not having the first-mover advantage can also generate inspiration because someone else has taken the risk to try out if something created will be accepted and successfully developed so that it becomes a product/service to share/sell. It is a natural human cognitive disadvantage to fear or feel some sort of resistance being the first to run the show. It is easier to work on already existing conceptual idea than creating our own. This is vastly seen in the world of art. Photographers, artists, musicians, poets and authors who lack of confidence to share their creations due to social or personal influences, draw inspiration from similar sources.
Creating a vision is the fundamental part of creation which potentially inspires like-minded individuals to be inspired. The difficulty is not to perform it but rather it is in the search for the individual satisfactory elements that makes us discover our potential to grow. For example, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Brandson, Bernie Marcus & Arthur Blank and Paul Allen are just a few from the hundreds of world’s most powerful people who inspired millions. In the word of internet, we now have access to so much information and this helps us get more food for thought. I personally find Frida Khalo de Rivera, a Mexican painter known for her self portraits, inspiring because even though I am not an artist or a designer, I admire the fearless, spectacular way she lived her life and never gave up.
What is creativity and how it differs from inspiration?
Creativity, on the other hand, is using something that already exist in pieces and is when modified together they can be developed into a better product or service. Creative thinking is often perceived as the unique piece of the puzzle that shapes everything in a different dimension never seen before. Creativity is an integral and essential part of the engineering design process. Without creativity you might find it difficult to reach innovation, which is where creative ideas are actually implemented. According to The Times, the top innovating companies produce 75% of revenue from products or services that did not exist few years ago.
Creation is a fruit of inspiration that you are ready to giveaway and share with the world… letting it go. In the process of creating, we perceive the world in a new way, find hidden patterns, make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and generate solutions. Observing the stages of embracement and decision to carry on can inspire others to do the same.
Inspiration is more related to the way you reach creation. Inspiration is “how” you decided to create whereas creation is more of a cluster of materialised objects that can be shaped into one. When we obtain a decision that has been driven by the influence of someone else we are most likely to reprint the same cognitive intentions. Someone at work who is superior to you can inspire you to grow more and have better vision for your personal development. Steve Jobs, for example, influenced and inspired people to go outside the box of normality of principles in business development and marketing. If you have a biscuit and tea (that sounds quite unrelated to the topic, but trust me, keep reading), they are two separate things that go well together. Someone invents the idea to create a cup for tea with extra space on the side for a biscuit-that’s creative and therefore can inspire others (loving metaphors).
Even though inspiration and creativity are both very different, they need each other like pen and paper- one doesn’t work without the other. Inspiration is the key to cross the limits of integrated conceptual framework and the divergence of an existent comfort zone to create. For example, Kinder Joy is no longer for kids only. Mums will be secretly eating them while their kids are deep asleep.
Certain moral or social boundaries have kept many creative individuals hidden in the shadow. For example, being different a century ago was seen as a rebellious and obscure approach that was often criticised and suppressed by societies. There was a negative stigma built around the feeling of stress, anxiety, postnatal depression which was labelled as insanity and Victorian women were locked up in madhouses with condition of “moral insanity”. Nowadays, being different is craved and constantly pursued.
So are we waiting for something or we already have it?