Where Inspiration is Born

Have you ever read any of Mo Willems’ Pigeon books?  They are very popular with the toddler set and feature a stick figure rendering of a bird, “Pigeon,” who boasts two big circles for eyes and a highly melodramatic attitude.  Kids – and, dare I say their parents – love this pathetic, downtrodden creature. 

Willems was interviewed this week by Renee Montagne on NPR.  It was a fun and lively interview that initially caught my attention due to the author’s animated and jovial voice; I couldn’t help but smile as I listened to him describe Pigeon’s latest trials and tribulations in the newly published, The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? 

What really drew me in though were not the specifics of the story.  Rather, it was Willems’ description of how Pigeon came to be. 

He is the only creation, the only character I’ve ever created that I didn’t create. I really wanted to make children’s books. I wanted to make picture books. So I spent a month in Oxford, England, thinking it would make me smarter. And it didn’t. And I made all these really terrible books.

And in the margins, I started drawing this pigeon who was complaining about the other books, who was saying, ‘Don’t write about them, write about me – I’m funnier. Stop this. This isn’t funny.’ That sort of thing. And so, eventually I, sort of, I gave in and I turned him into a sketchbook that I give for clients and friends. And sort of by accident, this got into the hands of an agent. And, you know, now look at the mess I’m in.

I am struck by Willems’ willingness to embrace the byproduct of the work that he originally set out to perform.  Pigeon – and the series he inspired – was born of doodles in the margins of Willems’ papers.  That Willems gave himself permission to listen to the messages shouted by his subconscious – to abandon the original assignments that he was given is none short of brilliant!

So, from where do you take your inspiration?  Is it from music, from art, from sports, from food, from people?  For me, especially as this blog – and its topics (e.g. networking, leadership, entrepreneurship, et al) – are consistently on my mind, I find that inspiration can come from any number of sources.  Indeed, now that CoffeeLunchCoffee consumes my psyche, I am struck by how frequently, throughout any given day, inspiration lurks in conversations about seemingly innocuous topics, sits facing me over my morning Coca-Cola, pops out from the rafters of whatever venue I happen to be in. 

With that, I urge you to tune your senses to points of inspiration.  Look for it wherever you find yourself.  Be very present.  Take notice of your environs, of the people around you, of the activity going on.  Begin to connect dots.  I am certain that you will be inspired.  Go on.  Try it today.

And, I invite you to share a little inspiration with me and the CoffeeLunchCoffee community.  Tell us your stories of the places that you find or have found inspiration, especially as they relate to relationship building, networking or career development.  You never know… you may just be the muse that inspires the next great cup of Coffee!

4 thoughts on “Where Inspiration is Born

  1. Confidence leads to inspiration! When you’re confident, you aren’t afraid… when you get excited you go for it…. you don’t keep it bottled up wondering if you should…

    Last September I received the best piece of advice of my life. I was talking to the CEO of my company about hiring an executive coach and my reason was I wanted to develop an unshakable fearlessness and confidence and I wanted to be challenged.

    Here is what he said to me:

    “Jason… you’re a ship. Right now your ship is in the water and it’s moving. Your sail is up and the wind is at your back. You’re too damn busy trying to find little tears to fix in your sail that you aren’t sailing your ship. Stop looking for tears and sail your ship while you have the wind.”

    He was right. I’m a motivated dude, but for some reason I hesitated on taking action on somethings out of fear…. fear of what others would think…. fear if I knew what I was talking about… ultimately fear of failure. This ended that day.

    It’s amazing when you allow yourself to be passionate and inspired and all we have to do is value ourselves and have a little confidence!

  2. Alana, I am inspired by places like the Central Exchange and OP Arboreteum. The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann is a poem that I cherish and draw inspiration from at times of challenge and joy. But I am most inspired by random acts of kindness.

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