Chapter Eight: Staying Inspired
From his fifth-floor room at The Savoy London, painter Claude Monet produced dozens of misty landscapes, including the famed Waterloo Bridge canvases currently in the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection. It turns out that I’m not the only artist with a penchant for travel and a propensity to seek inspiration from luxury hospitality. New York Times reporter Stephanie Strasnick says, “Monet is part of a long tradition of artists – including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol – who found inspiration during their hotel stays.”
Picasso spent three months in Hotel de Russie in Rome with poet Jean Cocteau. The two occupied adjoining rooms and were in Rome to stage the first-ever Cuban ballet. Surrealist painter Dalí spent every winter for 40 years in room 1610 at The St. Regis New York. He booked a second room in this luxury Manhattan hideaway as his studio. Similarly, Hôtel Beau Rivage in the South of France housed many artists and writers who created works there, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henri Matisse, Friedrich Nietzsche and Anton Chekhov.
Inspiration can come in many places and forms. I wish I could say that I can easily find inspiration in a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates, but for me it’s not that simple. Instead, I find it in an obscure journey to Southeast Asia, Tanzania or Brazil. It always has to involve travel. I love an amazing dinner, music, a theater show, ballet, and a great book. Sometimes getting up in the mountains for a hike or a kick-ass yoga class does the trick. Sometimes it's a spa day, a weekend away, or a wild night out with friends. Practically anything can be a source of inspiration. It doesn't have to be a fancy luxury property or profound in any way. It’s just important to feed your soul, find joy in what you do, and reap the true rewards of being an artist.
Staying inspired may feel like a luxury, especially with all the other external stresses you may have to endure. It is not. It is just as necessary as paying your taxes and your rent. The lack of inspiration can eat away at you slowly, day by day, sucking the life out of you and everything that you do.
In a linear world, it's important to schedule time to do things you love as a part of your business practice. Oftentimes, we leave this for our “spare time,” which never comes, and we find ourselves without creative fuel when we need it most. As we talked about in Chapter Four, infusing these areas into our daily routine can give us a more robust, actionable plan that keeps us better fulfilled and better able to create on demand.
When things are very busy, we tend to wear ourselves down, often because we lack the resources to delegate tasks to others. The “wearing down” aspect of this lifestyle is an inspiration assassin. It's important to put self-care ahead of jobs, clients and anything else that looks like it is more important. It's too easy to overwork as an entrepreneur. By doing so, you do everyone a disservice, and your ability to produce dwindles.
PROTECTING THE CROWN JEWELS
Inspiration is like a golden egg, the crown jewel of creativity that needs protection and polish. Not just once in a while, but all the time. Imagine the Yoni egg of creativity that is held close to your heart. If we can take this aspect seriously, indulge ourselves in the assets needed to protect our inspired self, and ward off evil naysayers, our work is done. It is literally done. That's all we have to do to stay in the flow, and believe and respect ourselves enough to know that living a creative, inspired, entrepreneurial life is no BS.
It requires inputs, and those inputs are always going to be different than the inputs in the corporate (linear) world. Applying their rules to our game is ultimately a forfeit. It's throwing in the towel and waving the white flag. We need to step up and take control of our energetic space and beliefs that enable us to do what we do.
There are two main steps in this process:
1.) Cultivating curiosity and inspiration
2.) Limiting activities and interactions that decrease inspiration and disempower you
CULTIVATING CURIOSITY + INSPIRATION
The first step is being aware or becoming more aware of what inspires you, what you are curious about, random interests and questions you'd like to explore. If this has been somewhat absent in your creative life, you may want to consider walking around with a notepad during the day so you can take notes as ideas pop up.
Leadership and personal mastery guru Robin Sharma offers clients 49 ways to get inspired. My favorites are: read biographies of lives greatly lived, stop watching the news, record your ideal day in your journal, visit a new city, discover a new restaurant, and watch the movie Searching for Sugar Man.
Once you become aware of what you'd like to explore, you can start scheduling daily and weekly activities to support that interest. What makes your heart race, makes you smile, empowers you, increases your energy, makes you happy, makes you forget about time altogether? What would you do if time and money were limitless? Those answers will help you.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
· time alone doing nothing
· spending time in nature
· art (music/theater/fine art)
· visioning (creating a vision board or vision journal)
· expressing gratitude
· spending time with friends/colleagues
· indulging in your favorite things
LIMITING FORCES OF EVIL
Similarly, in step two, we begin to take notice of what decreases our energy.
What makes you feel bad, disempowers you, depresses you, makes you sad, irritated or angry? What kills the creative fire inside of you? Noting these things can be a surprising process. I found that I was unaware of how many things made me feel negatively and how often I did not limit these activities and actually moved toward them. Once we start to feel badly, we often magnify the sentiment by finding other people/places/thing to maintain the status quo. The same is true of positive emotions, hence the need to keep things on the up and up!
Here are some factors that may reduce your energy and leave you feeling disempowered:
· negative people
· aesthetically displeasing environments
· abrasive sound
· linear-thought-centric environments
· social media
· crowded environments
· confined spaces