Where does your inspiration come from?

I spent the afternoon last week at the Natural History Museum in London.

The director, Sir Richard Owen conceived the museum in 1856 as a ‘Cathedral to Nature’. It is precisely that. A treasure chest of the natural world, home to 80 million specimens, from the formation of the solar system to the present day.

Not only is it one of Britain’s most striking buildings it also welcomes millions of visitors per year and inspires more people than ever before to care for the natural world.

I am one of those millions and I like to visit every time I come to this wonderful city.

This time I came to seek inspiration from the 2023 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. It’s a feast of the world’s best nature photography. Three hours passed effortlessly as I poured over the 100 mind-blowing images, chosen from 50 000 entries.

To see some of these images, click here.

On my way out I exited via Hintze Hall.

It’s a huge domed space and the largest public gallery in the museum. Suspended from the vaulted ceiling is a full-size blue whale and around the sides are large glass boxes housing precious specimens.

It was alongside one of these glass boxes that I noticed a lady crouched down on her haunches, leaning back against the stone archway, hard at work on her iPad. I remembered that she’d been in the line in front of me when I entered the museum four hours ago.

The expression on her face was one of pure bliss.

I could tell that she was deeply immersed in what she was doing and that it was bringing her great fulfillment and joy.

As I made my way around the Hall, I occasionally glanced in her direction. Not once did she change position or stop what she was doing. Eventually I came alongside her, and my curiosity got the better of me.

I asked her what she was busy with, at which point she offered to show me her work.

On her iPad screen was a perfectly reproduced drawing of the dinosaur in the glass case. She’d captured every proportion and detail of the object in front of her with unbelievable precision and care. It was an astonishing act of concentration and creativity.

Dinosuar frame

She told me that she’s an architect in a busy practice and she helps people to conceive and design beautiful spaces. But to do so consistently she needs to feel and be inspired. So, living close by, she comes here, to the museum, to immerse herself, to be alone and to draw.

“Do you do anything with the finished work?” I asked. “Not really”, she replied. “I come here for inspiration – the place, the drawing, the solitude and being creative provides that.” “What I produce from that is secondary”, she added.

Observing this lady, on a Thursday afternoon, in the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London, reminded me of something so simple, yet essential.

Inspiration adds richness, excitement and meaning to life.

It is a powerful transformative force that ignites imaginative thinking, creativity, motivation, and enthusiasm. Without inspiration life becomes mundane, dull, and lacking in vitality.

What’s more, it’s always out there. Sometimes it’s even hiding in plain sight. But it’s up to us to seek it out, to bring it into our lives and to be open to what it offers.

We had both come to the ‘Nature’s Cathedral’ that day seeking inspiration. I’d found it in those amazing photographs. And I needed it too. Those beautiful images gave me energy. They took me outside of my world and transported me into the realm of imagination and possibility.

She’d found it in the drawing and the peace and solace her creative practice provided.

What about you?

  • Where does your inspiration come from?
  • Are you actively seeking it out and bringing it into your life?
  • Where can you go to get more?
  • How can you be a source of inspiration to others?

We’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Where does inspiration come from?

Download the PDF below for 10 definite places you’ll find it.

(Includes 5 reflection questions and some lovely images too)

If you’d like to be in touch please call me on +27 82 894 4288 or mail me on grant@leadershipworks.co.za.

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