10% Inspiration. 100% Necessary.

Inspiration may only be 10 percent of invention.But without it, we choke.

The “Terracotta Army” was made for China’s first emperor. The sheer scale of how many of these were produced is amazing. Also amazing is the creativity that made each one slightly different.

I have to admit, It’s frightening to hear about how China is becoming more successful than the U.S. There isn’t really a justifiable reason for this fear. Is there? Yes, a more powerful China is a more dangerous China. Is that fear legitimately founded? On one side we’ve seen what hateful men with box cutters and access to a plane can do. From that, we know that people can be just as dangerous with or without a loaded bank balance. We could also argue that other countries were just as afraid of us when we were the dominate force in the world. Don’t believe me? Remember December 7th, 1941?

So, how did they get there? What helped them do it? China is excelling in the way of producing. They can work hard, fast, cheap, and pump out more things (things that sell) more quickly than any other developed nation. Is that all it takes to get to the top?

People tend to forget something. Production is very profitable, but not without inspiration. Not without innovation. For example: Many of Apple’s products are made in China. We hear about that all the time. But look inside any ipad box and you’ll see this phrase. Designed in California. Yes, it’s all produced over there. But it’s all created over here. China may excel in the way of production, but we excel in the way of creativity. And production needs creativity.

When Thomas Edison said, “Invention is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration”, he was saying that people thought inventing things was easy. It just took an idea. He wanted to remind people that making those ideas into realities took hard work. It does take hard work. But I think many of us have the opposite problem. We excel in doing things. But we forget how to be inspired. Have you ever said, “I just need to sit down and write for 45 minutes”, only to find yourself an hour later with nothing to show for it? I have. What did I do? A lot of things! I demoed and researched about 40 blog templates. I read my emails. I stayed up to date on every second of my viewership stats. But I hadn’t written a thing. I hadn’t even posted a status update. Why? I did so much. The only thing I didn’t do was sit still, and refuse to move until I had come up with an idea worth writing down. Distraction makes us wonderfully busy. But it stifles creativity. Inspiration may be only 10 percent of invention.But without it, we choke. (in case you didn’t catch that little quip, the latin root for inspiration means to breathe.)

Hard work is what brings our ideas to life. But let’s not forget the first breath of inspiration. To produce something is to make it. But to create something, is to step into a sort of divine legacy. To take a bit of ourselves and, through sheer patience and love, change the world. You can’t do it by staying busy. You can’t do it punching a clock. You have to love what you do. You have to give a bit of yourself over to your craft and choose to care. Only then can you create. Remember it’s only that 10% that makes you unique. It’s what makes your brand special. It’s what makes your gift to the world irresistible.

Don’t forget that.

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