Thursday, May 16, 2013

Inspiration + Capability

Having a good idea is not enough. A good idea needs capability as the driving force to bring that idea to fruition. The famous quote is: "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration." 

Buddha and Augustus to symbolize
Inspiration in Balance with Capability
  • Inspiration is akin to picking out your destination on a map.
  • Capability is operating the vehicle that takes you there.

One without the other leads to troubles. Continuing the analogy:
  • Without inspiration, you might drive around aimlessly in circles or endlessly haul someone else around to fulfill their wishes.
  • Without capability, you stay put and dream of lovely places never to be physically seen.

In other words, imbalances in Inspiration or Capability lead toward negative tendencies that trend either towards: Pathetic or Pointless:
  • Inspiration without Capability => Pathetic   (harmless, but no action)
  • Capability without Inspiration => Pointless  (harmful or useless action)

The Remedy:
  • Inspiration balanced with Capability => Useful Action
In other words ... Dream Big, Live Real  for the win  :)

Staying 'in the zone' of balanced inspiration + capability requires constant vigilance (and especially requires taking responsibility for yourself  ... before something else does). Keep trying to optimize through experimentation, notice the results, and iterate ever onward! As you continue along your path, you might decide shift your intended goal, or upgrade your transportation along the way, so to speak.

At the moment, I tend to be inclined more towards the inspiration side of things and am constantly trying to improve my capabilities to properly express my intentions. I still have a way to go in that regard, especially since I've recently changed my intention to focus on writing and photography full time. (I was a design engineer for years; and would say my long stint in corporate America was trending way in the opposite direction.) It helps me to think about these two dual goals - merging inspiration with capability - to effectively prioritize my time and energy, eliminating distractions, and at least working to solve the right problems. And as an entrepreneur, it's definitely crucial to realize that even producing good work is not enough; advertising will be a huge component. (Yeah, definitely still a work in progress . . .)

As children, we start out with grand inspiration, but lack experience, the capabilities to achieve those visions. I think it is a crucial life challenge to develop capabilities without loosing sight of our own initial inspiration. I think we are susceptible, especially in the modern environment, for our capabilities to be honed in service of someone else's goals, not our own. A very dangerous blind side. After finishing so many years of earnest training, we might become like little assassins - our capabilities serving to manifest the intentions of another. That may sound dramatic, but it's so easy to become sidetracked. It's a straight up difficult process to 'become who you are'. Talk about a moving target!

And after all, learning capabilities is in a sense like programming yourself. Even admiring someone else's work might dim your own memory of what you wanted to achieve, just as it might also open a door to a toolset that allows you to fulfill your own dreams. It's a tricky balance, but I find keeping in mind these two pillars of inspiration + capability, both together, helps inoculate against pitfalls of distraction or hijacked intentions. I think achieving this balance in stride is true maturity and joy. (And in some sense, you could even think of walking as controlled falling.)

In some sense, capability is like the structure that creates the opportunity to manifest your soul's desire.  Finding and honing the right capabilities to support your own inspiration seems to be the name of the game. Hope these thoughts help you too along the way!

-by Laura A Knauth

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