I was once taught in a seminar, by author and speaker Chris Widener, the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation, he explained, was what we can bring onto ourselves or the general desire to do something; while inspiration is something that comes externally or being stimulated to do something. His underlying point was that you cannot motivate someone else to do something, but you can inspire them to become motivated.
I recently heard Rabbi Joseph Telushkin speak regarding thoughts on ethics. I was inspired by his talk regarding the use of language and the meaning behind the words we use have an important impact. This motivated me to start thinking about the words that I use and to educate myself better on this topic. While I am generally an optimistic person, I have begun to notice whether or not the words I use communicate a positive message. And it could be simple words or phrases I have always used. For example, Zig Ziglar points out, in his recordings, that we refer to a traffic light as a stop light instead of a go light. Chris Widener uses the example of waking up to an alarm (negative connotation) clock. Rabbi Telushkin’s example was how we strive for deadlines, instead of due dates.
As a musician, I have not hidden the fact that I am in the process of teaching myself the banjo. I have spent time listening to the great Earl Scruggs. His breakthrough techniques elevated the instrument. And then, I saw Bela Fleck…He provided inspiration to this fledgling banjo picker when I watched him play Chick Corea’s “Spain” (great piece on its own). I was motivated in that the banjo, while a great rhythm instrument, can be used as a lead one as well. Even just seeing talented musicians provides motivation for me regarding on how one can extend one’s ability to create something new (which is why I like improv). We had a chance to see the Andy Statman Trio this past week. Andy is a phenomenal clarinet and mandolin player (yes, I did tell him I might have to learn the mandolin next), but when coupled with drummer Larry Eagle and upright bass player Jim Whitney, the three easily produce great music, to inspire aspiring musicians.
Between Rabbi Telushkin and the Andy Statman Trio, there was a lot of inspiration flowing my way this week. It is up to me, however, to transform that which excited me into motivation to action a takeaway for myself. What has inspired you this past week? Month? Year?