This guy Naval seems to have a lot of things figured out.
In one of his short-but-effective podcasts (usually around 6 minutes long) he mentioned that inspiration is perishable.
What that means is that inspiration is similar to ice cream on a hot day. You better make something of it while it lasts, because it's going to melt away.
That is freaking brilliant.
When reflecting on my work rhythm I realize that my greatest moments of productivity are directly connected with me getting a shot of inspiration. What got me thinking further was - where does it come from?
Picasso is supposed to have said “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working". My wife usually says "if you don't feel like doing something, you can just trick your brain to feel like it anyway - it's easy once you put your mind to it".
I think that's a big part of the story, but something is still missing; the goal. As I've written before, the goal needs to be clear. So clear that you see it with your eyes closed. And the reason why that goal is a worthy cause also has to be as clear. I'm thinking of a goal so clear that it hurts your eyes when you look at it because it's shining so bright, just as if the goal has merged with a star and is now blasting out a flow of bright white.
I'm thinking that it's when all these things come together that truly great work is created.
Victories creates rushes
I do my groundwork by interviewing and searching online, step by step building up a clear picture of the goal and the possible road to the goal. Depending on the complexity of the problem, it can be two phone calls or two weeks of meetings. As this process is going, I'm simulating and building hypothesises about how to reach the goal, discarding and renewing the ideas as new information is coming in from the interactions I'm having.
Every time I feel like "I got it", I get a small rush of dopamine. It's probably one of the best feelings in the world.
That kick is a big part of the inspiration in my life. It's almost like a game of unboxing - every phone call is like a new box - and every time I open one, new information comes that affects the previous ideas. Sometimes it makes me a little bit sad because the information that comes out damages the credibility of a previous idea. But then the next time, new information compliments the ideas I already have and suddenly - I have a new and improved idea. Que dopamine rush.
Eventually, as the project moves further and further, new information doesn't wreck the latest form of the idea. It is as if the idea has evolved to counter all other arguments and counterpoints. It is maturing. With maturity comes an ever-increasing growth of my confidence in the solution, which leads to a continuous flow of rushes with every new step forward.
After months of learning, asking, taking in critique and after much adjusting, finally being proven right by the market is a great feeling.
You won level 1.
As the rush eventually subsides, I'm on to level 2.
In conclusion, I guess my inspiration comes from that rush that small victories bring me. As I feel the rush of success, I want to do more to get that feeling again. But the work is only really interesting where there is the risk of failure, and that every box I open might be a bomb, smashing the idea into pieces. But to get started, I need to trick my brain, even if I don't feel like it. Because it's when I'm working I can get those small victories and feel the inspiration coming.
Reflecting on my article I just wrote, I think this is an incomplete picture. There are other sorts of inspiration that I have that are not strictly related to the stuff I wrote above.
(I guess I'll have to write another piece about it ^_^ )