Find the Fire

…you really need only about twenty seconds of courage at a time.”

Scott Mautz, in his book, Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration and Make Work Exciting Again, argues that inspiration is the “most powerful programming we have on our internal hard drive.” It’s more powerful than motivation. With motivation, we take an idea and run with it. With inspiration, an idea takes hold of us. Research has linked it to the enhancement of well being and living a full life.

We’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

But Mautz provides some discouraging data:

  • 70 percent of employees no longer feel a sense of inspiration at work.
  • 55 percent of them cite the ability to inspire as the primary leadership attribute they want from a boss; only 11 percent say their current boss is inspiring (interestingly, 7 of 10 bosses think they’re inspiring).
  • 56% of employees, working for uninspiring bosses, negatively self rate their productivity.

His message is that we shouldn’t wait for our leaders to inspire us at work. We can create the conditions for inspiration. Mautz refers to it as the art and science of self-inspiring. And it happens three ways:

  1. We can choose to view our old job in a new light.
  2. We can decide to seek new work and commit to understanding the triggers and warnings of what keeps and what drains our inspiration over time to inform our search.
  3. If we’re already inspired in our job, choose to understand why.

How Did I Lose My Inspiration?

When we find ourselves uninspired, most of us ask, “what inspires me?” Mautz argues this is the wrong question. Many things inspire us; it’s what we decide to do with the inspiration that matters.

A better question, then, is “how did I lose my inspiration in the first place?” Asking this question leads to assessing root causes, which we can do something about.

The Anti-Muses

Mautz has identified nine powerful forces, or anti-muses, that work to kill our inspiration, including fear, the most powerful anti-muse; it holds us back and keeps inspiration from pressing us forward, and settling and boredom, or complacency. Mautz notes “…the only competitive advantage left may be the very rate at which [we] are able to learn, grow, and change.”

For each anti-muse, Mautz provides strategies – or antidotes – for turning things around, including: start learning and growing again, reconnecting with coworkers and your boss, stop procrastinating, empowering yourself, staying in control during tough times, overcoming fear and embracing risk, producing work you’re proud of, boosting your self-confidence and personal presence, leaving your mark, and others.

How About You?

Are you feeling inspired at work?

If not, can you identify how you lost that inspiration? Can you identify the anti-muse that’s working against your inspiration? Once you’ve done that, you can create a roadmap for regaining your inspiration and doing the work you were meant to do.


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