02/01/2009

Find Inspiration Around You

By A. Nesrin Goker

I was greatly intrigued by a particular PBS advertisement that I recently viewed while watching television.  It began with a picture of telephone wires set against the sky, and then a bird sits down on the wire, and then another flies in, and then another until together all of the birds look like notes on a musical scale. Next a caption flashes on the screen: "Be more inspired". We can potentially derive many messages from this commercial, perhaps a motivation towards creativity or inspiration, for me however, I like to call this message "listening to the world."

Have you ever been in a place where your life begins to feel quite routine, where you find yourself doing the same boring things over and over again?  These moments of monotony and stagnancy might actually be the perfect time to listen to the world around you, to look for opportunities to be inspired and to find a new source for creativity in your everyday activities and surroundings.  Because of an abundance of suggestions and messages from the outside world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  One might say, "I am too busy leading my life to attend that event or try that activity."  Another person might feel stressed by an approaching work deadline or by family responsibilities, limiting their willingness or ability to accept messages or influences from the outside world.

But if you are in a rut and you are traveling down the same mundane, trodden tracks, it might be just the time to realize that life should be about much more than just routine.  Perhaps a dose of inspiration from the world could help to spice things up a little.  Listen to the world around you and watch the ideas that come to you.  Similar things have happened to me before and they happened just at the right time.  For instance I was trying to produce a report at one of my clients using an unfamiliar software program, but there were no instructions and everybody that knew this program had left the company.  My usual approach of poking around the help menu did not work.  At lunchtime I had a conversation about the TV series ‘Dancing with the Stars' with a coworker and Bingo - I had an idea.  I filled-in all the fields on the screen with stars (********) and produced a correct report.

Another time, I was counseling a client (a film set designer) who was complaining that there were not enough films made in her town to produce film sets for.  While she was telling me her woes, she kept calling me "Miss", which reminded me of my friend Missy who owns a catering business.  Immediately I recommended that the client showcase her designs at theme parties and restaurants (like Missy) where she could create lavish fantasies for the guests.  These small miracles and doses of inspiration do not necessarily have to be anything as grandiose as Mozart. Use these minute impulses of creativity for the little things in life and career.  Do you hear the voice of someone that reminds you of a particular advertisement?  Maybe stronger brand recognition is just what your marketing plan needs.  The next step would then be to take this inspiration and make a call to action, i.e. put a focus group together and find out what the public has to say about your ideas.  Make listening to the world another management tool that can help you not only improve your life and put an end to your rut, but also help to increase your career and business success. 

Let's take an everyday example to help better illustrate this concept.  Perhaps cooking dinner for your kids is the most important responsibility for you in that given day.  Instead of stressing about what dish to prepare and what to buy at the market, you can turn to the world for a dose of inspiration.  Maybe you will see someone that looks like your aunt that always baked your favorite blackberry pie?  Or perhaps you will see a magazine ad for tuna casserole that will inspire your culinary selection for the evening?  Look outside to the world and you just might find everyday influences that have the ability to simplify and enrich your life.

Career Management has many components: hard work, perseverance, good judgment, and a bit of luck as well as inspiration. How many times do we hear "keep your nose to the grindstone, just do your work and the career will follow"?  There is certainly some truth to this statement in that doing the job and accomplishing company objectives often does open doors for promotions and professional development.  But the concepts of "serendipity" and a little inspiration from the world can also get a career rolling in a new and innovative direction.

Use this tool in moderation; I do listen to the world, but I listen to my internal voice of reason even more.  I never let the world tell me to serve caviar when I cannot afford it, and I never let the world tell me to eat humble pie if I am repulsed by the idea of holding back my pride.  I take this theory of listening to the world as a means for life enrichment, not as an obligation.  I listen to the world, but I also listen to real people and most importantly to myself. 


 

A. Nesrin Goker, MBA, MA, is a consultant specializing in a variety of areas including career management. In addition to her private practice she has completed employment and efficiency studies (FEGS, USA) and student placement seminars for the University of Vienna Alumni Organization (Austria). She holds an MBA in Finance and MA in International studies from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in Philadelphia, USA, a Chemical Engineering degree from the Vienna University of Technology in Austria and a Postgraduate degree in Career Counseling from the New School University in New York, USA. She can be reached at office@angoker.com .


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