Revisiting the search for inspiration

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 4:05 PM | comments: 0

I've been reading and viewing a lot of stuff about people and things that inspire people. I'm a big fan of catering to intrinsic motivators (while recognizing that people want to get paid what they're worth). A lot of things can inspire people, mostly the words and actions of other people. When you look at history in a wider context, you can see it everywhere. Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech is a big one on my mind given the holiday. Kennedy's declaration that the United States would go to the moon. Heck, 17-year-old Greta Thunberg's plea for action on climate change is a big deal.

I see inspiration in technology all of the time. In software, you can launch a business with very little capital because of the cheap cloud resources available now. We drive a pair of electric cars that cost half as much as they did five years ago, but have twice the range. More than half of our power, including that of the cars, comes from the sun. Most of the world's observable fact is recorded online and searchable from a super computer in my pocket.

But it's hard to focus on all of that positive when there's a whole lot of negative. In my lifetime, we've been taught to be afraid of nuclear weapons, then terrorism, then the economy, and with all of the associated scapegoats largely resigned to non-threat status, the culture has moved on to fear anyone not like you (if you're white, anyway). Especially in light of Dr. King's speech, it's disheartening to see that, in 50 years, we still haven't come far enough. It even feels like the world is making all of the same mistakes again.

There are a few lines in the song "The Stairs" by INXS that always kick me square in the goodies when I haven't heard the song in a long time. It's almost as if I hear them at precisely the right time:

Listen to by the walls
We share the same spaces
Repeated in the corridors
Performing the same movements

The nature of your tragedy
Is chained around your neck
Do you lead, or are you lead
Are you sure that you don't care?

Think about that... it calls out that we have more in common than not, and the ability to move forward is largely up to you. Inspiration is the product of what people do together. If we can't find the inspiration, perhaps we need to be the inspiration.


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