Hi Everyone. Apologies for being somewhat scarce lately but I’ve been busy doing very grown-up things. Like work. Lots on again today so I thought I’d wheel out a chapter from my (last) book so you don’t forget me. For some of you it will be familiar and for others, not. As such, it will either be a new lesson, food for thought or revision. Enjoy your day…
Let’s be honest, who wants to live a life without inspiration?
The Writing Process
Sometimes I sit at my computer to write an article for a magazine or my website and the experience is a very logical, cerebral and practical one. To be honest, it’s more of a conscious process than it is any kind of creative experience. I carefully consider what I want to convey to my readers. I think about the key messages, the communication style, some possible examples, stories and analogies and whether or not I should share from a personal experience to add a level of depth and insight to the reading experience.
All very methodical stuff.
It’s fair to say that this style of writing doesn’t really come from a place of inspiration. Which is okay. It’s typically educational, instructional and informative but rarely inspirational. If it does manage to inspire or excite anyone, the response is typically more about the reader than it is the article. And while I nearly always enjoy writing, it’s fair to say that producing these types of articles – as necessary as they may be – doesn’t really excite me greatly or provide me with a huge sense of achievement or satisfaction at this point in my journey.
It’s kind of like work.
Perhaps my days of writing “how to create a perfect arse in four weeks” (type) articles are numbered. Oh well, maybe it’s for the best.
Turning on the Inspiration Tap
Then there are times when I have no immediate plan or intention to write anything but something happens and I literally have to stop what I’m doing and run to my computer. Sometimes, I feel like I’m sprinting with a glass full of milk trying desperately not to lose any of the contents (inspiration, ideas, creativity) as I run. Have you ever had an amazing idea or revelation and then lost it two minutes later?
How frustrating is that?
Sometimes I’m inspired and stimulated in the most inconvenient and impractical places and situations. I often find myself recording ideas and thoughts into the voice recorder of my phone while I’m driving because something or someone has pushed a button or opened a door to some insight, concept or truth.
Many times in cafes and restaurants, I have downloaded ideas, feelings and thoughts onto a serviette or piece of scrap paper because the situation, conversation or experience turned on some kind of uncontrollable creative tap inside me. And that’s exactly what it’s like when I’m inspired: uncontrollable.
It’s like the words flow despite me, not because of me.
I find that when I’m in that place, writing (or speaking, for that matter) is effortless, joyful and natural. And who wouldn’t want that?
When my cerebral self (some would say, my egoic self) makes way for my creative and inspired self, anything can happen. And it does. It’s when I’m in flow. Doing what I’m built for.
While I need and value the logical, rational, strategic, grown-up version of me – to ensure I don’t do anything too stupid or reckless – the ‘me’ I really like is the free-style, who-gives-a-shit-what-people-think, ten year-old that lurks within. I like him because he doesn’t write or speak for approval, permission, respect or status. He simply opens the floodgates and stands back. There’s no filter. No censor. No strategy and no agenda.
When it comes to creativity, inspiration and connection, sometimes the best plan is no plan. Sometimes, logical ‘me’ simply needs to get out of the way.
“Brilliance is rarely found in logic.”
A few years back, I had to open a fitness industry convention with a ninety-minute presentation to about a thousand people. Just before this particular gig, Johnnie – who manages my professional life - had been contacted by a well-known speaking agent who told him that she was interested in using me as a speaker for some upcoming conferences. She also informed Johnnie that she would be in the audience of my gig to evaluate me as a potential speaker for her stable.
On hearing this news, I decided to ‘razzle-dazzle’ my presentation a little, to make it a tad more polished, structured and, I dare I say it; electronic. Good grief. What on earth was Mr. Flannel Shirt thinking? I guess my thinking was that if I could wrap my speaking, story-telling and entertaining skills around some slides, photos and maybe even a video clip, I’d blow Mrs. Speaking Agent out of her chair.
What a stupid idea.
My Clever Plan
So, with my clever plan to impress, I discarded my much-loved white-board and markers (the only tools I typically use when I present) and took to the stage with an electronic slide-changing clicker in hand; the clicker that was about to take the audience and I on an electronic journey of personal growth and wonder; via my snappy new audio-visual presentation.
If only life was a theory.
Fifteen minutes into my presentation, I realised that I had totally forgotten about the clicker in my hand. What slides? What power-point presentation? What plan?
What a fuckwit.
I panicked. I went from being ‘in flow’ and speaking from the heart, to clumsily trying to figure out what number slide I was meant to be up to. Like a deer in the headlights, I awkwardly clicked my way back and forward through random slides in front of a thousand blank faces and felt my anxiety level rising. In the space of a few clumsy minutes, I had managed to move my audience from connection to total disconnection.
Quite the achievement.
By switching from my instinctive, creative and freestyle mode (whiteboard boy) to cerebral, logical, let’s-impress-the-speaking-agent (ego) mode, the overall experience, for the audience and me, had gone from inspired to uninspired. From connected to disconnected. The message from my heart was now coming from my over-thinking brain and I was totally losing the group. I was distracted and fighting for survival.
I was anything but inspired.
Back to Free-style
In a rare moment of clarity, I stopped all the electronic mayhem and clumsiness and walked to the edge of the stage. I put my presentation on hold for a moment and spoke to the group:
“Er, is it okay with you guys, if I ditch the slide show? I don’t really know what I’m doing with this gizmo and to be honest, I find the slides kind of distracting and annoying.”
Fortunately for me, they laughed and graciously gave me permission to revert to my free-styling ways. Between us, we managed to save the sinking ship, nobody died and we all learned something. Not long after I finished the presentation, I spied ‘Mrs. Speaking Agent’ making her way towards me. I had totally forgotten about her.
“Oh well, I blew it” I thought to myself.
Surprisingly, her feedback was that she loved my story-telling and my humour but not surprisingly, suggested that I never, ever use a PowerPoint presentation again. Ever.
And yes, she gave me some work.
Where I’m Happiest
While my life requires a level of practicality, planning, accountability and structure, just like yours, it’s usually when I escape my over-thinking mind, connect with my inner intelligence and operate from a place of inspiration, instinct and child-like enthusiasm that I feel most connected, authentic, empowered and happy. Right now, I’m encouraging you to find your inspiration.
An inspired life is the best life.