Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Motivation vs. inspiration

I read this article by Lance Armstrong's coach this morning (don't ask why; I've never seen a bicycle race, and wouldn't recognize Lance if he ran over my foot). I found this part massively thought-provoking:

Motivation comes and goes because it is a product of logic. People are motivated to exercise because of simple equations like: More exercise = greater fitness - love handles + sex appeal. There’s a mathematical, mechanical component to motivation that leaves it vulnerable to changing circumstances. Motivation goes out the window, for many people, if the equation gets thrown out of whack by poor weather, a new girlfriend or boyfriend, or mounting obligations at work. Inspiration, on the other hand, plows through the math to keep you on track for your athletic and fitness goals, even through life’s ups and downs.
Snap-snap-snap, and a whole pile of puzzle pieces that have been lying around on the card table of my mind for years fall into place. Things like why information-based sex education programs usually don't work. Why people with genuine vision succeed more than people with good ideas. Why diets go awry. Why I am sometimes a powerhouse mama.

I think it's absolutely true that inspiration is the stuff that makes us dig deeper and find reserves within ourselves we didn't know we had. Which begs the question: how do we get inspired?

Last week I read The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. It's got some interesting stuff in it, sort of a 'Carol Dweck meets Yo-Yo Ma and Apolo Ohno' kind of thing, with evidence that when you put in your 10,000 hours of practice it matters how you practice and how much you envision yourself succeeding. There was a chapter in there about how people become 'ignited', which I'm going to go back and re-read.

Meanwhile, my brain is ticking along on the word inspire, which carries whispers of spirit and breath and all that good stuff.


  1. That is indeed a great quote, dare I say, inspiring?

  2. Next thing you know, you'll be writing for Guideposts.

  3. Will you please update us when you have re-read that chapter? Would love a bit more inspiration over here.