Sunday night, I took my 10 year old daughter to see the last performance of Wicked, the Musical at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I made sure she knew it!
After the final applause, the writers came out on stage with the actors to pay tribute to those who had made it all possible. My daughter saw this as an opportunity to sneak out before the masses but it was the moment I had been waiting for. I explained to her, “This is what makes this night so incredibly special. We get to see those who inspired this phenomenon take pause for a few moments and acknowledge the greatness of what they have accomplished while thanking those who found the vision so irresistible that they joined forces to bring it to life.” Well, I didn’t say it quite so eloquently. It was more along the lines of “be quiet and watch”, but she caught my drift.
We left elated—filled with the vibrancy of color, light, sound and passion that we had just witnessed. Not wanting the evening to end, we stopped at an Italian bistro on Sunset Blvd. for dinner. Perfect strangers stared judgmentally at us as we waited for our food. I was aware of their unspoken thoughts, “why do you have a child out at 11:00 on a school night?” Never mind them. I was fully engaged in the moment as we relived the experience, scene by scene, line by line and song by song. And, we arrived home at 12:30 a.m. Monday morning, but when your home schooled, you can do that (I digress).
The opportunity to see Wicked before it left LA was the one thing my daughter truly wanted for Christmas. Santa obliged her, and Mom was given a ticket to “chaperone”. It exceeded our expectations (the best musical I have seen) and left me reflecting on “inspiration” as we drove home.
What prompted one person to find a “pre-story” in the Wizard of Oz, I wondered? What possessed this person(s) to act on the thought and create a musical sensation that would reached millions of people around the world? How many jobs had he/she/they single-handedly generated from one small inspiration? How many obstacles had they over come to make it happen? How many times were they told “no”? And what was the compelling vision that pulled them through to the point of enormous success? Was it the brainchild of a large studio? Or was it, as I suspect, one person’s passionate journey down a creative path? Based on the quality of the production, I chose to believe the latter.
Inspiration, or to be “in spirit” is such a simple and powerful concept. At the heart of any great accomplishment is inspiration. The motivating force for great leadership is inspiration. What puts some people in a state of inspiration almost continually, while others never get there? Is it a capacity that we are all born with but only certain folks utilize? And for those who apply their inspiration on a regular basis to repeatedly achieve greatness, is it nature or nurture? Were they “just born with it or did something in their environment coax it out?” Did it begin in child hood from words of kind praise and encouragement, or out of humiliation, desperation and discontent? Is it motivated by pain or pleasure, or both?
My guess is that almost any circumstance can provide inspiration. Some just have to look harder for it than others. And even fewer choose to act upon inspirational thoughts and yet, some of the most monumental achievements in human history were born of a simple, inspired idea. To me, the profound revelation is to understand what must happen in order for inspiration to become the catalyst for great accomplishments.
If an idea is the spark, then the flame must be the initial inspiration. Add a vision and purpose to the mix and inspiration can become the fuel to create a raging fire too powerful to ignore. In order for inspiration to lead to action, the vision must be irresistible and the visionary must be capable of communicating that vision in a manner that compels others to engage and remain committed in spite of the inevitable challenges. This requires strong leadership. So, is it fair to say that leadership is a driving force of inspiration?
In my mind, it must be.