What is inspiration?

The origin of inspiration is from the Latin inspirare, which means to breathe or blow into. Over time, it has come to mean to influence, move, or to guide.

People find inspiration in the most unlikely places. Take Archimedes for example – a Greek mathematician and physicist – who discovered the law of hydrostatics, simply by stepping into a bath and displacing the water. Or Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer who went for a walk in the woods with his dog and wondered if the burrs that clung to his trousers — and his dog — could be turned into something useful. Two strips of fabric, one with thousands of tiny hooks and the other with thousands of tiny loops was patented in 1955. Velcro. Inspiration came quite by chance in a sushi bar when the underside of an octopus’ leg gave rise to idea that a suction cup might work well on the sole of a runner’s shoe. All Nike fans will know that the rest is history…

In business, we often come across a mental block when we just can’t find a solution to a problem. Our brains seem to freeze, we lose sleep and we begin to panic. When that happens, we have to shut our brains off from outside influences, train ourselves to think upside down and as French post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin once said, “I shut my eyes in order to see.” This is when we often need to find a little bit of inspiration the most.

The most inspirational business leaders are able to think differently. They are patient and they don’t expect things to happen overnight. Above all, they can dream, play and innovate. In so doing, they spur others on to be the best version of themselves, to reach new heights by believing that everyone can uncover the unexpected, both in themselves and in others.

Who is your inspiration?