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Inspiration is Not Enough

Earlier this week, I posted an article about the importance of an audacious, galvanizing, inspiring mission to get teams motivated to do their very best. I submit this article as an answer to the how of it - as in - how do you keep teams motivated after the initial steam of inspiration has worn off?

I started writing a novel when I was 23 years old and only published it 12 years later. What I learned from that experience is simple yet profound: inspiration alone is not enough to get you to the finish line.

I was discussing this topic with a fellow artist earlier today. She asked me if I only wrote when I was inspired. My reply was that if I waited until I was inspired to write, then the book would probably still remain only half downloaded from my brain to the page.

To make things happen in life, whether in artistic or business pursuits, you have to show up every day and do the work.

Inspiration is great. You feel energized, pumped up, fully motivated. However, this feeling is unfortunately quite fleeting - you can't seem to ever hold onto it long enough to fully finish whatever task the inspiration drove you to want to complete in the first place.

That's because inspiration, my friends, is the carrot you chase, but never catch.

It's ever elusive, impossible to bottle, and even more difficult to count on.

My advice to you out there looking to make progress against your objectives is to make friends with discipline.

One of my favorite recent quotes is that discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. What we want now in the short term is usually instant gratification, instant results, instant success, instant adulation. If we contrast that with what we want most, usually some higher order desires come into play like sustainable performance, #1 status, or to fully finish what we set out to do. The key to these higher order objectives is focus, alignment (if working in a team), and yes, you guessed it - the D word.

I finished a novel in 12 years not because of my dogged discipline, but because I stubbornly refused to quit - which is in itself a form of discipline, I suppose. What objectives or dreams are eluding you? Are you waiting for the winged fairy of inspiration to magically motivate you into action or are you willing to show up every day and will your dreams and goals into existence a day at a time?

The choice is up to you. As for me, I choose daily discipline over inspiration every single time when it comes to reaching my goals and motivating my teams forward.

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