Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who's In Charge of Inspiring You? (3 ways to stay inspired)

When I was a five, I saw Superman: The Movie for the first time. I distinctly remember the scene where Superman makes his debut to the world. Lois is dangling from a helicopter that's on the edge of building and she's holding on for dear life, but she falls while the spectators on the ground watch in horror. Clark Kent makes a quick change and Superman catches her in mid-air. The helicopter comes loose and falls, but Superman quickly catches it (with one hand) and the world goes crazy! Cue the John Williams theme. As a little kid, that made a huge impression on me. I realized that Clark Kent was more than I had originally saw and that fascinated me. Soon I was jumping off of my parents' couch, tying a blanket around my neck and drawing like crazy. This one moment led me on a path on which I'm currently on.

Much of what we strive for in design or business comes from the inspiration that someone else bestowed on us. Dreams are born as a result and dreams need fuel, and that is where inspiration comes into play. Whether it's Superman, some beautiful piece of art or the story of a person triumphing over adversity, we need inspiration. But who is in charge of inspiring you when you run out? Who's in charge of picking you up when you're down? I believe it's ourselves. Why? Because we can count on others inspiring us as much as we can count on wining the lottery. If you have a dream or a goal it's your job to inspire yourself. It's up to you to make the choice to get up. How do you do that?

Here are 3 ways:

1. Read for Inspiration: Yes, read books that are inspirational and that help you clear and organize your thoughts. There is nothing better than hearing the stories of others who have gone through tremendous struggles to achieve the impossible. For designers, I recommend Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky (Founder and CEO of Behance). For a generalized outlook, I recommend Start Where You Are by Chris Gardner. Both these books have clear ideas based on life experience and that is important. An idea is just an idea if it doesn't have miles of life experience on it. Or find a source for what inspires you now and connect to it.

2. Stay Away from Negative Nelly and Debbie Downer: Now more than ever, the world is crawling with those that play the woe-is-me card. Yes, the economy is crummy, but look at what you do have and be thankful. Stay away from people who are constantly saying "I can't" and find people who say "I will" or "I have". Go to meetup.com and find groups of people with similar interests and goals. You are the company you keep.

3. Make the Choice: If you've got a goal you have to work at it and your inspiration will need it as well. So make the choice to do it and stay committed and consistent. The results won't be immediate, and failures will pile up (believe me I know), but dust yourself off and get back to it. It's not a matter of "if" it's a matter of "when" and that's up to you. Failures are just practice runs so don't be discouraged

Sometimes inspiration will find you, like it did me in the form of a cape wearing superhero. I've gone through some tough times and questioned myself and everything I am, but I made the choice to inspire myself and keep going because no one else would do it for me. The illustration you see posted today was made especially for this post. Mike Shelton, The Bolt, is featured here revealing his super persona. I created him 9 years ago and he almost made it to the big time as an animated series, but things went wrong (as they will often do) and it got put on the back burner. It's been 9 years, but there is currently a glimmer of hope. Who knows what life has in store, but I do know, that much like The Bolt, there is more to me (and you) than what you see. Christopher Reeve once said:

“So many of our DREAMS at first seem Impossible, then they seem Improbable, and then when we Summon the Will, they soon become Inevitable.” ~ Christopher Reeve

I hope this helps. :)

TB

*Enjoy the Superman clip, perhaps you'll see why a 5 year old kid started doodling on napkins.


24 comments:

Carlos said...

Wow, dude. You out did yourself. I am so pumped right now. Things have been so crummy for so long now and I get down about it and half ass what I do, but you reminded me that it's my choice. Thanks.

the Citizen Rosebud said...

Great post, Dennis. I especially like the failure are just practice runs quote.

One of the most motivating comments made to me was in a similar vein. Two friends of mine, a husband and wife team of designers invited me to dinner and gave me the best pep talk. The wife, a soft spoken but wonderfully steely in determination said something that moved me. She said: we don't think of it as failure. If something doesn't work, we just look at it again and try something different. We never think in terms of we can't do this, we quit. We just try a different approach, again and again if need be. We do it until we get it right."

Without her words, and their pep talk I never would be trying what I am doing now. There is no failure or quitting if you are doing what you love; there is only a new approach, a different tact.

Tanoshiboy said...

@Carlos Thank you so very much.

@Bella I'm glad you shared that with me. More and more I have been hearing about how failure plays a huge part in success. It really is a tool for growth and it's awesome that you got it when you did. You're doing to do great because I can feel your passion through my computer screen, Bella. And passion, like inspiration, is contagious.

Inmar said...

No truer words of inspiration have ever been spoken. Your right, "no one will do it for you" and a decision must be made when childish excuses get put aside. Seek out greatness or settle for the mediocrity, it's not a difficult choice to come to grips with. Always remember that fearing failure is like worrying about death, it's an inevitability and such, pointless. Seek out your dreams and become master of your own existence, or die trying.

For me it's the elegance of music that runs the powerful machine that is my imagination. But I have always wanted to become a bigger reader and the benefits are to numerous to pass up. Thanks for dropping such a powerful kameha-meha blast of wisdom on me cousin. Onward to greatness, no?

Jeannette Paladino said...

I find that I am inspired by my friendships. We love and help each other so it's hard to stay down for long (and we all have bad moments). I hope that your dream comes true. Love the illustration.

Catherine Lockey said...

Dennis, sometimes, when I'm not feeling inspired, looking back helps me to go forward. In other words, I can see the bigger picture and then try again, even though I don't feel like it.

Tanoshiboy said...

@Inmar Music is always an inspiration for me too. As I've gotten older I've become more open minded to different kinds of music too. Take today, I listened to some Bing Crosby. I can already hear my 18 year old self. I hope you consider reading these two books. Thanks man!

Tanoshiboy said...

@Jeannette That's very sweet of you, thank you. Friends definitely Help, if only they were always around. :)

@Catherine Absolutely. I think back to something one of my favorite teachers said about me back in high school. It really helps me to see myself in a different when I'm feeling in the dark.

Susan Oakes said...

Hi Dennis,

I once had a disagreement with a personal trainer. She said it was her job to motivate me and I said no I motivate myself, because when we finish I have to carry on training by myself.

Also we should stop looking for the quick fix as it doesn't happen. Maybe it is a case these days of stop going more complex and do the basics very well.

Loved the post and good lessons we can all learn from.

Tanoshiboy said...

Wow, I can see you telling the trainer what for. That's impressive. I think most people want the quick fix only because we live in a world where everything is "now". There's something to be said about being patient and letting things take it's course. My younger self would be kicking me right about now. Unfortunately, reality show "stars" completely contradict that. Such is life.

Tomás Serrano said...

Practice: that´s fundamental.

neanster77 said...

Ah, this post came just in time. Thankyou : )

yoborobo said...

Hi Dennis! Thank you for inspiring me. :) I believe completely in hard work and staying focused. I've been rejected (professionally) so many times, I am actually sort of used to it! lol! That doesn't mean that I am resigned to it, I just see it as part of the life of a creative person. I try hard to take it less personally, learn from it, and just move on. I keep working, which is where the bliss is for me. :) Pam

Jennifer Bower said...

Wow! What a great Thanksgivig gift, to read this post! No truer words could be spoken. My sister and I are great examples of this very premise. She holds the illustration degree, I hold a BFA in interior design. She set up a portfolio site and let it sit for 6 years just 'waiting' for hits. She is still waiting & has stopped creating. I walked away from design upon graduation and have worked for nearly 2 decades in creatively unfullfilling jobs. Seeking an outlet for pent up artistic ideas I dug out all my old college supplies, tranformed my poetry blog to one that focused on my doodles, opened a FB and Twitter account and sought out other 'creatives.' The votes of confidence and feedback has been amazing. And, I keep pushing. pushing. pushing. The biggest help is having no expectations for what success should look like. The biggest hurdle is the learning curve I am on. I too read a lot! Online art co-ops have also really kept me motivated. Illustration Friday, Sunday Sketches, Creative Tuesday are the three that have artists of all ilks that provide huge amounts of inspiration and positive energy. I am going to share the post, Dennis! I want to the few that following me to be inspired by your words. Thanks again for this wonderful post!

Sherryl said...

Wonderful post Dennis. I'm inspired by the fact that you created this illustration specifically for this post. That's amazing to me.

Sheila Atwood said...

Dennis,

Staying committed and consistent in inspiration is a great idea. Artists are the targets of those who want to stifle the future and keep us from growing. It take effort and fortitude to make it go right.

I like seeing live performances as a means of inspiration. Like the local play, or poetry festival.

I am fortunate to live close to two universities so their are plenty of opportunities to catch lots of creativity.

Keyuri Joshi (on the ball parent coach) said...

Amen!! Your three suggestions are outstanding. #2 (removing the negativity from my life) has been incredibly empowering!

Brad said...

great post, well said! i vividly remember watching superman at about the same age. it was the first movie my father took me to see in the theater.

inspiration is important, i find it easy to inspire myself. however, i find keeping positive is much more difficult.

cheers

Rob Berman said...

Dennia:

I am listening to Who Moved My Cheese as an audio book as I drive around. Your point dovetails so well with the message of the book. Sheer coincidence or double motivation?

Rob

Vanessa Brantley Newton said...

First of all I LOVE THE ILLUSTRATION!!! This almost goes without saying. The colors are really bold and a great choice. I love the line work. The composition is off the chain fabulous!!! You did your dang thang and it's awesome. The article was superb! Good thought and instant inspiration. FILLED with lots of wisdom and ways to get inspired. I think you did a awesome job. With so many blogs out and about posting all kinds of negativity, people want some hope and some inspiration from people who care and are willing share as well. Dennis YOU ROCK DUDE!!!

New Internet Horizons for Small Businesses said...

Dennis, for someone so young - you are very wise. Yes, it is very easy to get discouraged in rough times and we have all been through, are going through, and will continue to go through rough times. This is called "life". When my girls were young, whenever they would say "But that isn't fair" (and they said that VERY often), I would always say: "no one ever said life was fair". I don't know if you have any children yet, but when and if you do, they will be very lucky to have a dad who will teach them, guide them, and inspire them with the wisdom and hope you reveal to your readers.

Sarah Wu said...

Heehee great post. I didn't know batman inspired you. That's pretty cool. I like your 3 ways of inspiration. Books and website r pretty good to read and that's what I always love to do.

Kate F. Eaton said...

Always appreciate hearing a positive word, Dennis. Thanks for reminding us that we are responsible to keep ourselves motivated, but there are plenty of ways to make that happen.

Your story about loving Superman as a child made me smile! Here's another childlike thing we can say to the things that currently appear to be obstacles: "You're not the boss of me!!"

Tanoshiboy said...

Thank you everyone. I am so very glad this post struck a chord (a personal one at times) with you. I really felt passionate about this post and I'm sorry I wasn't able to get back to everyone's comment individually, but know that I read your comment and it really made a difference in my day. I appreciate you sharing the post and how it inspired you to read it. :D