Recently a number of people around me have been discussing the concept of Inspiration or more specifically inspiring others. To me inspiration is the process causing someone to undertake something creative. That creative action could be within the individuals art, lifestyle, or any variety of other areas.
This got me thinking. When did I first experience inspiration? What inspired me as a child? Why did I want to be a fireman or a farmer or a policeman?
Many of the people I have heard ruminating over inspiration link it to the accessibility of information. So to inspire someone about a topic you have to give them access to information about it. By providing knowledge regarding science, those who encounter it will be inspired to dedicate some part (even the smallest part) to science. However I can’t recall an adult explaining the intricacies of a fireman’s life and duties to five year old me. It makes much more sense to me that I made a connection with a fireman once. Potentially it was Fireman Sam who made five year old me think “Damn, that guy has a pretty nice life, helping people, doing exciting stuff and what not” or maybe it was a local fireman when I saw him in his awesome Fire engine (and still to this day, Fire engines are awesome).
I can’t accept that information is the cause of inspiration. During one university lecture the use of doped semiconductors and their junctions in electronic components including diodes and transistors was explained. My mind was blown! This was and probably still is the smartest and most incredible piece of knowledge I have ever learnt. While it spiked my interest massively, I currently work as a Maintenance Technician. Clearly it didn’t inspire me to pursue a life in electronic R&D.
Individuals and personal connections are the true birth place of inspiration. Orville and Wilbur Wright repaired, sold and eventually manufactured bicycles. They capitalised on a current craze to make money, in the same way many business owners do. At some point they decided flight sounded like a really awesome idea, they refined and developed technologies. Then one day Orville became the first person to experience powered flight. Two guys who sold bikes made the first ever aeroplane. That is inspiration. The idea that anyone among us can do something truly world changing.
No amount of information about flight, aerodynamics, power to weight ratios can come close to being as exciting as the knowledge that everyday people invented the powered aeroplane. The most personal connections people can make the more inspirational it can become. Kids don’t care about going into burning buildings, planting row after row of corn, or giving drivers speeding tickets. They care about the individuals who do the job, the individuals who wrestle with powerful hoses, drive tractors or wear uniforms with custodian helmets.
Until next time, in the words of Go West “People say I’m the life of the party ’cause I tell a joke or two”, I do after dinner speaking, hire me?