Motivation Versus Inspiration

Is there a difference between inspiration and motivation? What is that difference, and how do we define it? There are many people who use these words interchangeably, yet there are differences.

Motivation Defined

Motivation can be created through impassioned speeches, such as those given by motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, or Magic Johnson. It is often accompanied by upbeat music which is designed to get the audience out of their seat and excited. Motivation can also be driven through incentives. Cash bonuses or spiffs are often used in the business world to create immediacy or a specific action.

Motivation is great, it gets us excited, it creates action. The only problem is that motivation is often a short-lived emotion. Once the music stops, or the incentive expires, we need additional motivation to get through the next hurdle.

What is Inspiration?

Inspiration is different. Inspiration goes deeper, it goes into the soul. It is inspiration that provides the spark to do what is necessary, even when you do not feel like doing it. To inspire others is a higher calling. To be able to inspire others, is not as much creating a show, but to show.

Inspiration is a critical factor in transformational leadership. The transformational leader is much like the light that attracts. This light draws people to it, rather than provides an incentive to the same action. It is a lasting feeling within us. While not nearly as exciting as motivation, inspiration is just as powerful. When we are inspired to action, this action will continue long after the intrinsic benefits disappear.

Who are the Inspirational Leaders? What Made Them So?

Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, and Abraham Lincoln were all inspirational leaders. Their words were motivational, but their actions that followed their words were inspirational. They lived their values. Their messages were driven by a sense that there was something greater than self. A higher power, a reason for being. This feeling is something that is inherent in the human condition, yet the day to day activities and stresses can sometimes suppress this feeling.

Motivation is Great, I want to be Inspired

I love to be motivated, it is exactly the emotion I need when I have been avoiding something, losing weight and getting into shape comes to mind. Who does not like a good sale, or other cash incentive? Magic Johnson gets my heart pumping, after listening to him I feel like I can do anything. Yet, those bursts of energy fade. The realities of my day to day life end my quest for improved fitness and world domination.

It is those who inspire me, that work within that deeper level that I admire more. I strive to live a purpose driven life. That purpose does not have anything to do with fitness or finance. It has to do with being able to be part of something greater than myself. I find that when motivated, I am excited, I am happy. When I am inspired, a tear usually rolls down my face, and I feel joy. I want to feel joy!

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