The world’s population is hovering at 7 billion and with the miracles of life comes demand for global food, water and energy resources. Additionally, demand for health, shelter, clothing, education, transportation, culture, finance and the distribution and democratization of information and technology.
With the unique talents we individually possess, short lives we all live, problems we collectively face and tight professional cycle for impacting the world, we must, as entrepreneurs unite as an urgent global army of innovation.
Across our fields of passion and expertise, we must not only solve problems but also anticipate them and produce visionary, viable and worthy solutions.
Romantics would have you believe that behind every great man is a great woman.
I would argue that behind every great man, great woman, great child, great invention or great worldly contribution is inspiration.
Here are forty tips designed to help entrepreneurs, business leaders, mavericks and aspiring innovators accelerate our collective and individual pursuits towards inspiration:
1. Honestly evaluate your professional and social circle of friends. Are they inspiring? Do they truly stretch your imagine of what is possible in this lifetime? If not, it is time to retire this circle or file them into passive mode. Then, identify and build an inspiring new circle. You cannot choose your family, but you can select the people whom you spend time and associate with. Parents always study a school’s reputation before enrolling their child, knowing she or he will be environmentally influenced. Have you become lax about the human environment you find yourself in today? This is not a philosophical thesis on traditional friendship qualities of loyalty, generosity and integrity. Ask yourself, do your companions consume or catalyze change? Do they inspire you? Do you admire them? Then, ask yourself, do you inspire your friends? What have you achieved or what are you doing in life that deserves their admiration?
2. Assess your city of residence. If you live at South Bend in Indiana, take action, migrate and breakaway to a domestic hub where innovators in your field reside, like Silicon Valley in California or Silicon Alley in New York City. If the skyscrapers and revolving doors of New York City, Seattle and Chicago no longer inspire you, file papers, establish company presence or secure employment in a foreign land. Fly and fall in love with another culture of people, problems and opportunities.
3. Remove physical, emotional, mental and spiritual clutter from your life. You know the negatives you can control – bad health, bad memories, bad feelings, bad resentments, bad relationships, bad fears, bad insecurities, bad debts, bad regrets and bad dramas. It is useless hanging on. Today is a new day. Immediately take action to resolve them, achieve finality, break the shackles and disengage them from your life. Inspiration rarely hits and positively manifests itself in the lives of those living with all-encompassing burdens. States of desperation can inspire. However, as humans, we are mentally incapable of sustaining prolonged periods of desperation, burden and despair.
4. Quit one habit you know you need to quit. We are human and have vices. However, inspire yourself by quitting your single-most burdening habit then replace it with a positive new one.
5. Stop trying to find yourself and start creating yourself. Build a vision of the person you’d like to be. What will be your ultimate legacy and contribution to the world? Become and evolve into your vision. You are the architect, engineer, builder, renovator and repairer of your future.
6. Take time from your day while sitting, running, walking, praying, exercising, doing yoga or chores to simply reflect and be thankful and grateful for all you have. The grass is greener on your side.
7. Forget and ignore your past academic and professional accomplishments, accolades, achievements and designation. In a battlefield, the stripes you have earned are irrelevant to your ultimate goal of crossing the line and securing an inspired life. Be always hungry for new achievements.
8. Do one thing everyday that differs from your standard daily routine. Walk a different route home or instead of going to the gym or walking the dog in the afternoon, do so in the morning. Step out of habit and your opportunity to stumble upon new inspiration increases.
9. Answer ‘Yes’, above ‘No’. This includes business and social invitations with colleagues, friends and acquaintances. Saying ‘yes’ is your self-stamped envelope for opening new inspirational possibilities.
10. Actively network and meet new people. Seek meaningful conversations with a different person everyday. The world, its problems and solutions are viewed differently from the eyes of a single mother, a childless mother, a teenage mother, a new mother, a mother trying to have another child, a mother of four children, a mother whose children have all left home, a mother who is living with terminal cancer, a grandmother and a working mother. Multiply this through the eyes of painters, interns, CEOs, bankers, politicians, students, actors, DJs, war veterans, jobseekers, tradesmen, teachers, doctors and software programmers.
11. Sleep well and rest well. Working long hours does not equate to productivity and does not offer the optimal mental, physical and emotional state for inspiration to strike.
12. Research one accomplished plus one emerging entrepreneur per day. In spite of their complete uniqueness, which qualities, traits, experiences or advice do they commonly share or impart.
13. Read stories about challenger brands that succeeded. Know that Apple has not always been the world’s leading consumer brand and that its future can change dramatically and is only as secure as the company’s next product innovations, investments and competitor’s ability to out-innovate.
14. Research a person who has diversified and built iconic multi-million dollar personal brands such as David Beckham, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan. Study how they have evolved their names to a level beyond fame and into the zone of iconic.
15. Escape to the noisiest place in your city or the quietest, noiseless spot. Inspiration can be found at places of absolute silence such as a zen room or absolute loudness and chaos, such as Times Square or Grand Central Station in Manhattan.
16. Switch off and disconnect from your computer, iPod, social media and mobile devices for one peak hour per day, appreciating real-world connections with zero technology distractions. A pivotal moment in my career was when Sanjay Bhasin, my inspiring former leader and Young & Rubicam advertising agency’s Chief Client Officer across Asia encouraged me to reduce time working on my laptop sending emails. Sanjay emphasized that the advertising industry is about inspiration and ideas, which have nothing to do with the number of emails, project budgets, timelines or strategic decks I produced. The industry of ideas is inspired by the real world. Do not allow technology to falsely promise you otherwise and do not perpetuate the modern lie that Google has the answer to everything in this world. It does not.
17. Read the highest circulating newspaper and most popular website loved by the ‘masses’ so you are always connected with the sentiments and problems faced by everyday people. Highbrow snobbery and disconnection from ‘commoners’ is un-cool, unreal and uninspiring.
18. Read stories about unparalleled human courage and triumph. Learn how people respond to cathartic life experiences such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and hurricanes. Be inspired by the power of nature and more so the power of the human spirit. Then, take the next step, connect and support the survivors and communities affected.
19. Reconnect with a higher power. Billions of people around the world find inspiration in the divine and find inspiration in the courageous act of surrendering all to the will of God.
20. Identify a visionary mentor within your Personal Facebook or Google+ community and also a professional mentor from your LinkedIn or local community. They need not possess yachts and mansions, but they must align to your definition of inspirational success. Then, when you are responsibly ready, mentor others in your personal and professional community. Do not polish your life. Inspire them with the lessons of your truths. Keep it real.
21. Consume culture by watching movies, television, listening to new music, reading magazines, blogs, books and appreciating commercials. Through cultural consumption, you’ll have better insight into worldly problems and solutions. Then, shift this cultural consumption into cultural creation. Create music, video and art.
22. Exchange your skills with another person. Share a language, share a talent, share a craft, share a hobby and share a moonlighting commercial or community project.
23. Post a Status Update on your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter account acknowledging “I’m in need of inspiration. Any ideas?’. The responses may surprise you. They may be valuable, funny or a telling fact that it is time to upgrade to an inspiring circle of friends.
24. Reconnect with nature – the ocean, rivers, lakes, seas, forests, mountains, deserts, canyons, beaches and sun. Involve yourself in conservation or engaging activity-based nature projects. Through nature, we see higher human possibilities.
25. Follow people on Twitter who are on missions of discovery, like Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton who is set to summit Mount Everest in 2012. Find adventurers sailing the world’s oceans, astronauts launching into space or rainforest and polar region explorers. Also, follow somebody on Twitter who claims to be an expert or leader in a particular field. Soon you’ll be an expert too.
26. Name a country in the world. Ask yourself what is the name of its capital city? If you do not know the answer, lock in your annual leave and travel there. Also, consider taking a one-week vacation to Zurich then immediately fly to Africa for a year’s purposeful sabbatical.
27. Read one motivational quote per day, but not more than two.
28. Recall and electronically file away compliments you’ve received from people. We all need little reminders of our value in the lives of others. Then, find inspiration in identifying the value of other people in your life and compliment them.
29. Research local and global census and statistics. Is your city or country experiencing an ageing population? High or low birth rates? What are the primary causes of death? High female: male ratio? High immigration? High emigration? High marriage and divorce rates? What are the key and emerging industries? Statistics are often good indicators of supply and demand needs.
30. Seek higher formal or new skills based education. Additionally, research and book yourself into a free or fee-paying conference, seminar or exhibition. Upgrade your education and update yourself on the latest industry-developments.
31. Volunteer at a hospital, hospice, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, animal rescue site or community support organisation.
32. Engage in current affairs and understand the world’s major crises – financial, food, energy, illiteracy, health, education and communication. Dive deep into a particular issue such as climate change or teen suicide and be part of the community of change. Also, read stories about current and past political revolutions, analysing the forces driving them. Revolutions often evolve from pursuits of deeply rooted problems within that society.
33. Seek new inspiration from history. Fashion designers and creative industry directors are masters of historical referencing.
34. Revisit your precocious past self and look at the world through the lens of a child – a world of many major problems that you hold the exact simple solution for. Also, play with your daughter, son, niece and nephew, watching how they live their lives in the present, enjoying every moment. Most of the world’s problems such as war should truly have simple solutions – if it wasn’t solved by global political egomaniacs driven by commercial gain, pride and lust for power, polished with propaganda.
35. Reconnect with a loved one who recently experienced a momentous life event such as giving birth. Or, a person you had a close friendship with in your youth who may have lived through imprisonment, drugs and alcohol addiction but has successfully U-turned and today leads an exemplary inspiring life.
36. If you’re a budding entrepreneur, involve yourself in the entrepreneurship, ideas and innovation community. Explore and engage with Under30CEO, TED, Mixergy, Entrepreneur, Ycombinator, Wall Street Journal Startup Journal, Inventive Change, theGeniusBox, Poptech, Venture Loop , The Young Entrepreneur Council, Inc., Springwise.
37. Build upon yesterday’s inspiration, today. Working towards a dream has the uncanny magic to drive new inspiration.
38. We are human. Above most distractions in life, we are rightly driven by love. Talk to someone you love. Think of and connect to the people you love most in the world. Gain inspiration from their presence in your heart, if not in your life.
39. Search for inspiration within yourself. Think of the hardest struggle you have faced and know that you have the fight, might, smarts, wits and strength to overcome and create greater solutions for yourself and for the world.
40. Look down. We are often inspired by greatness – those who we perceive are more successful, more moneyed, more smarter and have more of everything. However, I would argue that inspiration is greater gained by looking at those less fortunate than you are – the terminally ill, the sick, the aged, the homeless, the poor, the troubled, the mentally bruised, the physically less-abled and the outcasts. Do not be seduced by perceived great people. Be only inspired by great problems requiring great solutions.
The world needs you, but you need inspiration – a stimulant and agent we cannot afford to find, await, search for, stumble upon or haphazardly seek.
We have diseases to cure, lives to enhance, wars to end, relationships to bridge, ideas to optimize, imaginations to satisfy, innovations to distribute, dreams to realize, the hungry to feed, children to educate, the underprivileged to empower and generations to accord the futures they deserve.
Race, accelerate and sprint towards inspiration today, for you are the author of your new unwritten chapters – a collection of inspiring, imaginative, innovative, explorative, collaborative and constructive pages I hope the world will never forget.
Author: Wempy Dyocta Koto is the CEO of Wardour And Oxford, a global business development agency working with entrepreneurs, small, emerging and large companies around the world to grow their businesses nationally and internationally. We work across all time zones and are inspired by our client’s ambitions to improve our world with their ideas, products, services, innovations, social pursuits and vision. Follow @wempydyoctakoto or email firstname.lastname@example.org