I am compelled to write, and share my work, for three distinct reasons. First and foremost, I love the feeling that comes over me when I am able to create something that is a unique expression of who I am. Second, I thrill at the thought that I might place a knowing smile on a complete stranger’s face. Finally, if through my words and insights I can inspire somebody else to look at life differently; then my purpose is fulfilled.
Recently I received a comment from a person in New Zealand, who it turned out had truly enjoyed one of my posts. They let me know that I had motivated them to pursue one of their early life passions; oil painting! I was walking around feeling warmth over the thought that I had connected with another human being half way around the world. My words had given them the courage and faith to go out and follow their heart. Still, something about that distant comment seemed to be bothering me.
This morning, the source of my irritation came to light. I realized that there is a thin fine line between motivation and inspiration. Sometimes that line can become blurred as we struggle to come to terms with the two distinct concepts. Yet there are some subtle differences between the two words that otherwise have come to be interchangeable for most of us!
Motivation is the emotion that drives us to complete or act upon something. It can be the fear of punishment or the anticipation of reward that propels us. In short, we must act or there will be something to lose; or we must act because there will be something to gain. We are motivated to act because of what it means to us personally. We are usually urged on by outside forces that mandate a certain course of action. A challenge has been issued and a decision must be made.
Inspiration, on the other hand, is extremely selfless. In adopting this emotion, we are not driven by fear of loss or hope of gain. Outside forces do not force our hand. Instead, we are acting because we believe that it is the right thing to do. We are faith-bound in our belief that our action will benefit others, with no personal gain or loss on our part. In brief, we are willing to share for the sake of sharing. There is no better gift of yourself!
Motivation is a conscious choice; a calculated reaction to a defined challenge. Inspiration comes naturally and addresses not the challenge, but rather anticipates a need. By all means, set your targets and aim for them carefully. Motivate yourself to do those things that out of necessity will better your life. But also take time to harness the inspiration that already resides within you. Inspire yourself to share your gifts with others, knowing that there is nothing to be personally gained or lost from the effort. Take a chance!
Remember that motivation has a defined task and a specified timeline. It is temporal and it is limited to you alone. Inspiration is universal and spans effortlessly across space and time. It lasts forever and touches others in countless ways! It is also highly contagious.
For my newfound friend in New Zealand; I am so pleased that you have motivated yourself to pick up paintbrush and palette. Now I look forward to having you join me on the other side of the thin fine line; for in sharing your story, you have inspired me!