“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both” — L.P Jack
Gendered pronouns aside, the quote above serves as an excellent example of that certain type of inspiration that leads to novel ideas.
This elusive act of moving thoughts and emotions, of feeling utterly compelled to shift and see things differently, motivates and propels us forward into next. We’re all inspired by different things; as you can likely tell from my sharing L.P. Jack’s words, I thrive in states of play. Although expressions differ, the need to be fundamentally inspired is ubiquitous across all cultures and constituencies. This is especially true while blazing new ground.
Inspiration and ideas
Today’s economy, more than ever, prizes skills such as empathy, creativity and collaboration. As a social entrepreneur, you’re advised time and again to connect with others, to practice net-giving and to work within a social ecosystem that’s constantly cross-pollinated by proofs and whims from diverse disciplines. Although hard work is often done alone, emergent ideas are catalyzed not by solo time in the lab, but rather by robust discussions, fiery disagreements and a team who coalesces around particular values.
So then, at what stage is inspiration best shared with others for review and feedback?
On the one hand, a multitude of perspectives can help further your ideas. Friends and colleagues can point out possible pitfalls within a safe environment. They can help you iterate, test and fail without the market ever knowing. Fancy that.
On the other hand, inspired ideas can easily be stifled by devilish advocates and naysayers. I attended a talk on April Fool’s Day by Nolan Bushnell (Google him if the name is unfamiliar, it’s worth it), and he mentioned a former lawyer who secretly wanted to be a businessman. This guy, as Nolan tells, shot down ideas and killed deals faster than you could share them. Seemingly, not the best atmosphere from which to draw and further cultivate inspiration.
A rock: feeling inspired, having some solid ideas, possibly sketching them out, but not being able to move them forward without consulting with others.
A hard place: having people readily shoot down notions that get you excited.
The Goldilocks zone: finding the right people and environment in which to share and test your ideas.
Finding the Goldilocks zone is easier than you might imagine. Just look for qualities like adaptability, curiosity and genuineness. And don’t hesitate to shy away from those that call themselves “realists” and “down to earth”. Those traits are admirable and mighty necessary, just not when you’re letting your inspiration lead to more.
Sam Saad is a lifelong learner, educator, recovering hypocrite and social entrepreneur. He focuses on democratization and civic empowerment, and is currently working on this first social venture – JustAccess – as part of SSE-O’s inaugural cohort.
JustAccess is a crowdfunding platform for the justice system. While maintaining the utmost degree of accountability and transparency, defendants and/or plaintiffs will be able to upload their case profiles to our site, thereby enabling individuals – such as yourself – to more easily engage with and financially support litigation of your choosing. We all want to create a more just society, one where everyone regardless of income has equal access to the courts — JustAccess helps make this a reality. Check out getjustaccess.com.
You can also read more about the School for Social Entrepreneurs-Ontario (SSE-O).