I love listening to a good motivational speaker. The stories and illustrations they share get me fired up and eager to get out, seize life, and aim higher in the goals I’ve set for my life. It feels good to be motivated.
I also like being inspired. “Wait a minute!” I can already hear, “Isn’t being motivated and inspired the same thing?” On the surface, inspiration and motivation appear to be the same. However, I believe there is a slight but significant difference between the two, and once we understand this difference, we’ll be better equipped to chart a successful course for our lives.
So what is the difference?
Motivation is an external force that comes from seeing an example, reading a book, hearing a great speech, or myriad other sources. You can be motivated to do things you are neither passionate about nor interested in. I’m not saying motivation is a negative force. On the contrary, it can be quite strong, enabling us to do great things. But it is external, and can be fleeting. I look at motivation like taking a shower. You can’t just take one shower and be clean forever. A shower is good for a while, but before long, you need to take another one if you want to remain clean. Likewise, motivation is not something that occurs once and then you never need to be motivated again. It must be regularly sought.
Inspiration, on the other hand, is something internal. When you’re inspired, it’s like you can’t avoid doing what you’re inspired to do. You can spend untold time working toward an outcome that inspires you, and giving your best performance for a sustained duration. To me, inspiration feel like a fire within that provides extraordinary energy to move forward even against huge odds or pushback.
Ok, great. Motivation and inspiration are different. So what?
Here’s the important point about knowing the difference between motivation and inspiration: if you want to cause something to happen in your life that is significant, pursue something that inspires you.
So what thoughts or activities inspire you? Are you currently trying to pursue a different course in life, and have multiple options to choose from? If so, pay attention to what motivates you versus what inspires you. Choose to pursue those things that inspire you and begin setting yourself up for extraordinary success.