11 Ways to Seek Out Inspiration as a Business Owner

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In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the importance of inspiration. Inspiration awakens you to new possibilities and allows you to push beyond ordinary experience and limitations. Inspiration takes you from detachment and apathy to possibility and wonder. Inspiration transforms the way you perceive your own capabilities.

According to psychologists Todd M, Thrash and Andrew J. Elliot, inspiration has three main qualities; imaginative recreation (evocation), experience beyond the normal or physical level (transcendence), and approach motivation, which views inspiration as a positive affective state triggered by positive stimuli. This moment of clarity is often vivid, and can take the form of a grand vision. Over time, you strive to transmit, express and actualise this new idea or vision.

Inspiration is a springboard for creativity and facilitates progress towards goals. As a business manager, it’s important you do the best you can to set up the optimal circumstances for inspiration. Steve Jobs once said “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Jobs saw that inspiration was all around him and as such he became the quintessential example of an inspiring manager. His leadership style involved;

  • Using strategic vision to motivate, energise and stimulate change
  • Empowering employees at all levels
  • Challenging the status quo and enabling creativity
  • Accumulating and sharing internal knowledge
  • Gathering and integrating external information

So whether your business is running like a dream or you’re experiencing a few hiccups, here are some inspirational ways to get a motivation boost…

Talk to your customers

Talking to your customers is a fantastic reminder of why you do what you do. Not only does customer feedback help you find ways to improve your business, it helps you generate new ideas that can reinvigorate your business. Open the channels of communication with your customers and you can’t help but be inspired.

Another idea is to encourage your customers to share their stories of customer satisfaction and provide reviews. Positive customer impact is a powerful motivator, and not only will this increase customer engagement, it gives you the opportunity to get to know your customers so you can better market to them.

Establish new goals

If your goals are overwhelming you, break them down into smaller milestones that appear more approachable. As your business progresses, keep reevaluating them. Motivation is easier if you can see you’re making headway.

Look at the big picture

Take a step back and look at where you were when you started your business. It’s a strong reminder of why you started your business and how far you’ve come since starting it. Getting back to the heart of your business and measuring your accomplishments so far is an excellent way to connect the past with the future.

Network

Having a network of likeminded people can be an invaluable support system. Not only can you provide each other with feedback and advice, you can remind each other that you’re not alone in your challenges. Become a member of your local business association, join in a workshop, or sign up for a speed networking event.

Talk to staff

Your staff or franchisees are your bread and butter and are the drivers of your growth. Who better to talk to for inspiration than them? Your staff want nothing more than to feel valued, and when you take the time to listen to them and seek their opinions, this value is cemented. You come away with some new ideas and they come away feeling appreciated. It’s a win-win situation.

Read biographies

Some of the greatest business success stories come from humble beginnings and great challenges. Co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington was rejected by 36 publishers and when The Post first launched it was met with highly negative reviews. Before George Steinbrenner acquired ownership of the New York Yankees, he bankrupted a small basketball team called the Cleveland Pipers. And Richard Branson, a high school dropout, has a long list of failed enterprises, yet he remains one of the richest business kingpins in the world.

Read quotes

The internet is packed full of inspiring quotes from the world’s greatest leaders. These quotes may teach you that long-term goals are worth fighting for:

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” – Warren Buffet

Or that big results come to those that believe anything is possible;

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be” – Karen Raun

Or that some risks are worth taking;

“Pressure can burst a pipe, but pressure also makes diamonds” – Robert Horry

Read how-to books

A quick search of inspirational business books will pull up thousands of results on Amazon. Among some of the best is The Science of Successby Charles Koch, named one of the Time’s “must-reads”. Charles Koch has erected the world’s largest privately held company and in this book he discloses exactly how he did it. Another great book is The Business of Belief by Tom Asaker, which explains why your primary role as a business owner or manager should be to motivate others – employees, customers, vendors.

Consider your community impact

Having a good cause to align yourself with is a powerful motivator, especially when you can see it making a difference. Platinum Electricians’ One Van One Child initiative partners with World Vision to help children in need from Zambia. It means that for every van on the road, a child is sponsored, and that commitment to honesty and integrity extends way beyond the everyday activities of our electricians. The gratitude expressed by parents in particular gives us reason to grow every year.

Watch TED

TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short and powerful talks (18 minutes or less). A global community, TED welcomes people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world and business world. Stir your curiosity and browse the videos today.

Take part in an event

In Australia’s capital cities, there’s always an inspirational and motivational sessions to be had thanks to organisations like The School of Life and Ideas at the House. The School of Life in Melbourne’s Bourke Street includes a “conversation cafe” that runs a series of talks and workshops. Ideas at the House, located at The Sydney Opera House, offers an annual talks and ideas program bursting with inspirational festivals.

Seeking out sources of business inspiration

To be personally inspired, you have to look for it. Remember, when opportunity fails to come knocking, you must create your own door. Recognise the sheer potency of inspiration and its potential impact on everything you do. Do this and you will be permanently motivated to think big.