Climate Change and Building the Right Kind of Inspiration

Inspired by or inspired to? The difference is more important than you think.

Climate Change and Building the Right Kind of Inspiration

Before we dive into the regularly-scheduled newsletter, I wanted to call your attention to the fires in the Amazon. I hope you’re able to remain calm amidst the eye-opening, and earth-shattering devastation in the Amazon. I also hope this lights a fire in our collective efforts to address the global climate challenges we’re facing. This fight is not just about Brazil or the Amazon—it’s a global fight for humanity.

And now, on to the newsletter! Along with the usual reads and product suggestions, I’ve dropped a new article in my series on inspiration. If you’re looking for inspiration for climate change action, this article will help. As always, feedback is a gift. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to improve the newsletter!

— Kevin K.


Inspired by or inspired to? The difference is more important than you think.

January hits with a wave of inspiration. Our list of resolutions includes: go to the gym every day, take more photos, write in a journal, eat healthy, run a marathon, win the Nobel Prize, build a house, paint a mural, call our friends, etc. It’s so long, it’s laughable. Unsurprisingly, only a few weeks later, most of the items remain incomplete. Our gym shoes sit unused in our closet. Our journal has only a few sad entries. Where’d did we go so wrong?

We’ve all experienced this type of inspiration—the type that helps us build absurdly long lists of to-dos and unattainable goals. In a recent post I examined the three phases of inspiration that drive us from being inspired to turning our inspiration into action.

Motivation plays a clear role in the path to delivery, but it’s only part of the story. In fact, if we notice, it’s the last part of the story. And, just like a story, the conclusion is the result of a long-awaited journey. We should focus on the journey itself, not just the finish line.

Inspiration may arrive in a snap, but it changes over time. It’s a complex network of reactions and stimuli. If we want to maintain it, we must develop and encourage it consistently. To build a lasting inspiration system, we have to expand our three phased definition to also include the types of inspiration.

Let’s start with the two types—or processes—that gently inform our inspiration phases. Each of these types of inspiration plays a specific, often complementary role in our conceptual framework—the process of being inspired by, and the act of being inspired to.

These processes are not mutually exclusive. One can be inspired by the beautiful colors during a sunset and also inspired to run a marathon.

The process of being inspired by allows us to appreciate a particular stimulus. For example, experiencing the beautiful colors of a sunset may stimulate inspiration. The wonderful part of being inspired by is that what we're inspired to do is not necessarily related to what we're inspired by. This form of inspiration is incredibly potent and, to me, feels entirely pure. Albeit a more passive process, it grounds us in our senses and unlocks wonder and creativity. The challenge is that this form of inspiration can often be passive, not actually leading to action. And there goes our six-pack abs.

The second type of inspiration is the process of being inspired to. When you're inspired by that beautiful sunset, you might then be inspired to capture it with your phone or start that new business. Inspiration moves linearly, progressing from being inspired by to being inspired to. The processes align with the conceptual framework we discussed earlier, noting that instigation, realization, and motivation states fall within the stages of inspiration. This is what we often value most, as it actively places us in the creation process.

No matter the inspiration stimulus, our ability to capture inspiration improves as we ready ourselves to recognize an encounter with an idea, object, event (i.e., being inspired "by") and  wish to actualize this newfound vision (i.e., being inspired "to").

The main lesson from these two forms of inspiration is that they each play a pivotal role in our inspiration system.

Being inspired by is about appreciation and discovery. It unlocks great potential within us and helps open new conceptual pathways.

Being inspired to is about taking action. Grabbing those little bolts of lightning and turning them into a rocket ship.

Too often we get stuck between these forms of inspiration, letting insights and ideas slip right through our fingers. The key is to grab these ideas quickly so you can translate them into actions. This is where inspiration compounds and grows. This is where you learn and expand your mind. Remember to pay attention to these types of inspiration—if you don’t, they just might pass you by.


Internet Reading

1. Do You Have a Moral Duty to Leave Facebook?

Are you taking responsibility for your social media actions? Too often, we aim our moral frustrations at those who create the products that cause large-scale harm. In our distress, we forget that, like us, we’re in a relationship with the people and products they produce. And, like any relationship, we have the agency to opt-out and own our actions.

2. The Psychology of Prediction

We all know predictions are hard. But the reasons that make it so hard are not always obvious. A lot is happening behind the scenes that lead us to misread signals and make bad decisions. Morgan Housel describes 12 common flaws, errors, and misadventures that occur when we make predictions.

3. In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed

“Evolution works on the principle of survival of the fittest, not the fastest. Remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare. As we hurry through life, cramming more into every hour, we are stretching ourselves to the breaking point.”


Apps & Tools

Navigator — Reclaim the power of your meetings

We’re long overdue for a meeting revolution. As remote work takes center stage, meetings are becoming an increasingly prominent cast member. Sadly most meetings are just noise. Navigator automates meeting coordination, schedules, and task management to deliver more efficient team meetings.


Weekly Challenge

Weekly Challenge #13

Create a list of screen-free activities to use during idle time.


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Thanks for reading, and see you next week,

— Kevin K.

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