Is it motivation or inspiration that helps us survive? Or both?

As I stated in yesterday’s article, Have you ever needed a little push to start your day?, I felt I really needed a bit of a pick me up as I was having difficulty getting focused. Quite frankly, that doesn’t happen often but when it does, I attempt to be proactive by seeking out something that will change my mindset and get me back on track.

Today, I feel my focus and positive mindset have returned but in light of one news story after another referring to economic uncertainty and signs of the times, I’m concerned about how others will be affected – or may be sidetracked by worry.

Adding insult to injury, Hurricane Ian is barreling down on the Florida Coast and there’s bound to be a ripple effect that will affect many people including those, albeit indirectly, outside the Sunshine State.

So even though I’m [mostly] back to focusing on tasks at hand, my mind is drifting back to yesterday’s thoughts about motivation and inspiration. I recalled an article I had written some time back and thought it appropriate to share again today.

In any event, I pray those in need find the inspiration and/or motivation necessary to survive and recover from whatever challenges they may be facing.

Inspiration vs Motivation

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I’ll admit, I often interchange motivation and inspiration. Actually, because I do, I find that I use both words together in a sentence. For instance, what motivates and inspires you? Maybe it’s because what motivates me, typically inspires me, as well. And what inspires me, often motivates me. Is that wrong? Maybe it is according to the definition of both words, but I find it works for me. It’s akin to a 1-2 punch. They work well together. In any event, it works for me. However, maybe it doesn’t work for you.

Inspiration is defined as, the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative; a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea.

Motivation is defined as, the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way; the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Kelly Slater, an American Surfer states, “Motivation is temporary. Inspiration is permanent.” A very concise message, to the point. Six simple words. Yet, I believe there’s much more to the spirit behind being motivated or inspired. Or should I say, motivated AND inspired?

The following quote from Dean Bokhari, a writer & speaker about personal development, meaningful work + mastery presents a different perspective:

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Some may look at Bokhari’s quote and think it’s just Salter’s quote further defined. I don’t see it that way. I believe Slater’s point is more a black & white issue, an either this or that scenario. Bokhari’s quote speaks to me of a yin & yang (most think it’s ying & yang) scenario, working together, complementing each other, reinforcing, if you will.

According to Wikipedia: in Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a Chinese philosophical concept that describes how obviously opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

From World History Encyclopedia: The principle of Yin and Yang is that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites, for example, female-male, dark-light and old-young. The pairs of equal opposites attract and complement each other. 

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As the Yin and Yang symbol illustrates, each side has at its core an element of the other (represented by the small dots). Neither pole is superior to the other and, as an increase in one brings a corresponding decrease in the other, a correct balance between the two poles must be reached in order to achieve harmony.

I read an interesting article, “The Important Difference Between Motivation and Inspiration” by Rob Holman. He is an internationally recognized leadership expert, executive coach, keynote speaker, and bestselling author who has a heart for authentic relationships and a true talent for equipping people with the skills and the knowledge necessary for their success. He states:

“For years I thought that inspiration and motivation meant the same thing. But the more I thought about it, did some research, and became a student of people, the more I came to believe there’s a very important distinction. The subtle difference between the words can make a world of difference in leading people.

Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as follows: “Something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create.”

Here’s what it says for motivation: “The act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something.”

Inspiration is more a person reaching a point of wanting to act, whereas motivation is more of giving people reasons to act. That’s the difference between babysitting and empowerment, incentives or influence, fire-starters and fire extinguishers.

There is a need for both inspiration and motivation. But to lead effectively, knowing the difference makes a tremendous difference.

When we try to motivate people by using positive incentives, and perhaps even some negative tactics, that’s using outward things to enter the heart where real change takes place. This can work to some degree, but the effect is often temporary.

When we try to inspire people, we’re reaching for the heart in a way that the person is changed from the inside out. When people want to change because there has been a deep stirring in their heart, it’s sustainable and leads to long-term vibrancy.

There was a time in my life when I consistently sought encouragement from others as my main source of motivation. Sometimes I’d get it, other times I wouldn’t. I needed the encouragement to perform well.

Then I began to be inspired by a purpose-driven challenge in my life, as well as some individuals who helped me understand that what I do should not define who I am. This changed everything.

With motivation, I was looking for reasons to be a better me to maximize performance. With inspiration, I understood who I was and, as a natural byproduct, I was able to accomplish things that I never thought were possible.”

Maybe I’m off base here, but I’m starting to realize a difference in the meaning of both words but only as it applies to the act of doing something for the benefit of others as opposed to for one own’s benefit. Meaning, to motivate and inspire others appears to be different than being motivated and inspired.

In any event, when I feel inspired, it motivates me to do something. When I see that my coaching creates excitement for my client or even just a glimmer of hope, it motivates me to expand my reach to help others. If I’m motivated by a motivational speech, it inspires me to take my own personal thoughts regarding the speaker’s topic to a new level. In both cases, I feel both inspired AND motivated.

Is there a difference between inspiration and motivation? Yes, I know there is. But does it matter when in the moment of being inspired and/or motivated? I guess it comes down to something that is quite simple which is whether it provokes thought and confidence in taking action.

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There are a lot of things that can provide inspiration AND motivation – seeing other people accomplish great things, seeing others overcome adversity, speeches & quotes from great people, the written word (books, blogs, etc.), and even the sheer beauty of nature can inspire and motivate us… while also reminding us just how lucky we are to be alive.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!