Re-Inspiration, Two Ways

I’ll be the first to admit it, I Tweet a lot. Perhaps more than I should. I don’t think I’ve reached the point of “eating this”, “wishing I could eat that”, “headed to the bathroom!” tweeting. But admittedly, it’s my default place to go for information, entertainment, and inspiration.

But at times, we can find that our go-to sources of inspiration are not getting the job done. Why? Likely because they’re the go-to place. The default, the constant source. I believe that for something to be inspiring, it has to be different. And while the “Excellence is a habit” or “Impossible says ‘I’m possible” quotes are inspiring at times, they can’t get the job done every day. So what’s a girl to do?

Over the weekend, I noticed a few practices that re-energized me. I’d like to share them for those seeking inspiration, new thought, or a break from the day-to-day.

Seek Inspiration at the Bookstore. Of all of the places I could be considered “dangerous if unsupervised with a credit card”, bookstores would top the list. I always want to read something, and it doesn’t matter how many books are ahead in the queue- if I see a book I want, I’ll buy it. But yesterday, after a day of studying, I found myself at Barnes and Noble with no agenda but to wander. And wander I did. But I started paying attention to where I lingered. My body went on auto-pilot to the business section, without me realizing what was happening (I’m being completely serious- I’ve never been to the business section in this store, and just ended up there as though on auto-pilot.). Stands to reason, as I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration for my work in the business section. Sensing a pattern, I just let myself continue to wander, making note of where I naturally stopped. Humor, Biography, Music and Performing Arts, Cooking. All of these are industries and vocations where I typically seek inspiration- I like to use humor and theater strategies for retreats to get students energized, borrow from the management theories in restaurants to evoke efficiency, and look to the lives of others to learn what has been done and what could be done.

The next time you’re in a bookstore, just let your mind go, and see where it takes your body. Chances are, you could find your next flash of genius there.

Follow People Who Do Something You Don’t. Now stay with me here.
I have grown to love Twitter, Facebook, and other social media for the ability to connect and interact with fellow student affairs professionals and aspiring members of the field. However, I find that there are some days that, through no fault of anyone, I need to hear something else. References are constantly made to us working within an “echo chamber”. I absolutely see it, and sometimes believe it.

I was searching through influencers on LinkedIn this morning, selecting who I want to follow. It occurred that there are few, if any, influencers who work in higher education. And you know what? I’m okay with that. While I think it would be good for some of the professionals in our field to apply for the position of influencer, I’m also aware that it’s good to be influenced by those who do something different than what we do. As I said when commenting on a post I found there the other day, “there may be problems in our industry, that have already been solved in another. How will we know if we don’t ask?” For me, the quickest way to break free from the muddled mass of recycled, even exhausted topics of conversation is to look somewhere different and start a completely different conversation.

Where do you go for inspiration when the standby sources aren’t getting it done?

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