It’s sort of easy to see that inspiration is not enough. It’s also clear that hard work is necessary, but it’s easy to think that just any hard work will do the trick (spoiler: it won’t). But, if you want to be successful, it all comes down to that final movement where you take hard work you’ve done and put it out there. Aim for that throughout your entire process.
Inspiration Is Not Enough Or Necessary
To be inspired, to conceive of a great idea, is awesome and incredible. By itself, though, it’s meaningless. A lot of people have genius insights that could change the world or their lives, and then just forget about them.
Of course, not everyone gets that inspiration is an unplanted seed. There’s a lot of people who come up with a ground-breaking concept for a book, a website, a business, or an adventure and stop there.
In my life as a business consultant, I hear a lot of business and website ideas and, in my life as a blogger, I hear ideas for posts. People tell them to me and seem somewhat irritated when I smile, nod, and get back to work. But what do they expect? I’ve got my own ideas to bring to fruition.
Inspiration isn’t even really necessary. Innovation and creativity are often misunderstood to regard the object rather than the method; everyone talks about coming up with an original product or service before starting a business. Everyone talks about coming up with an original concept before writing a book, painting, or whatever. In all these things, it’s not the particular focus that does the trick – it’s the way of fulfillment. The famous artist can paint an apple in a new way, the successful business can fulfill customer desire in a new way. You don’t need to be inspired to make a new kind of fruit or sell a new type of shoe; you just need to depict or provide apples and shoes in a superior way to win.
Inspiration is really about motivation; in the concept of something new and brilliant, it is to be hoped that the inspired person then gets full of the glowing light of creativity and drags the vision out, kicking and screaming, into our shared world. As long as your motivated, though, you can drag perfectly commonplace things out of yourself into the world and it’s still manifestation. Manifestation, in this sense, is how we change our lives.
Hard Work is Not Enough, But It Is Necessary
When it comes to the hard work, a lot of people get off the boat. That’s why hard work can do such amazing things for our lives. Really, there’s not that much competition. A lot of people are really, really good at just one thing. So… be really, really good at two or more things and combine them in some way. That’s the difference between someone who is a worker their entire lives and someone who moves beyond into creativity, expression and success. Pick your two or more things that you’ll excel at, work hard on them, and provide routine maintenance work to everything else.
Hard work’s necessary, but I’m not saying that you need to work a lot. There’s a masochistic pride a lot of employees and entrepreneurs have in working themselves into exhaustion. That doesn’t help the company or the person. It’s critical to make a distinction between necessary and unnecessary hard work – there’s plenty of both to go around. Doing the necessary hard work is the price of entry into any competitive game of life, but make sure it’s your hard work and it’s really required.
If you’re not sure if the hard work at hand is yours or really necessary, you need to read or reread The 4-Hour Workweek.
Publish or Bust
When all the production is over, when whatever you’re working on is good enough (perfectionism is a character flaw), absolutely nothing will change in your life or business if you stop there. You’ve got to take the brave and exhilarating next step to get your hard work out into the community at large. At this point, we all experience some degree of limiting self-talk that comes out of social anxiety. You wonder if people will like it, wonder if you’ll get mocked.
Some people won’t like it. Some people will mock you. And that’s just fine. Pull up your socks.
If you never send your book to the publisher, if you never launch the marketing for your new business, if you never see if an art gallery will hang your paintings… you’ll never be a success in those fields. The truth of it is, all the inspiration and hard work people put into things sometimes fizzle out just when it comes down to exposing themselves to the public’s eye. That’s just fear, and if you let it win then it’s like you never had any inspiration, motivation, or put in any hard work at all.
And it might not work to your success, whatever you’ve created. That’s fine too, it was just one move in whatever game you’ve chosen to play. If you never move, you’ll never make the winning move.
So, for your next project or business or book or painting or whatever, be inspired if you can. If you aren’t inspired, do it anyway. Put in the hard work, enjoy building and making. But in your building and making, know that this little boat of yours needs to go out into the world. That doesn’t mean that you should compromise your vision or make concessions to common (read: base) knowledge. It means that your pile of assembled wood is not a boat until it floats out into the water. It means that you haven’t climbed the mountain until you’ve looked in all directions from its summit – and for every great effort, there’s a moment where it all comes down to that.
Keep on keeping on,