137. Allison Holzer: The Spark of Inspiration

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As a child, Allison Holzer was fascinated with the invisible. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would enthusiastically tell the listener that her dream job was to be a nuclear physicist (even though she wasn’t completely clear on what that meant). All she knew was that she wanted to study the teeny tiny particles that, when tapped into, could create huge amounts of energy.

Years later, Allison’s career trajectory took a turn when a psychology professor dramatically helped her realize the importance of mindset in shaping our reality.

Continued below…

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This ignited a new spark in Allison: a desire to understand what inspires people to do what matters to them, and what gives them the energy to achieve it.

“[W]e know that an average person, believe it or not, spends almost 90,000 hours in a lifetime at work, and yet so many lack an inspiring and purposeful connection to that on a daily basis. And what we know is that inspiration is a highly underrated and yet critical resource to be managed in modern work. It produces purposeful actions. It produces extraordinary results, and it makes people feel connected to their work and why they matter.”

Allison is now the Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of InspireCorps, and co-author of the book, Dare to Inspire: Sustain the Fire of Inspiration in Work and Life. She spends her days studying “the intersection of possibility and invincibility” (more commonly referred to as Inspiration), and seeks to help others find that intersection for themselves.

“When you feel that spark, when you have something inside of you that all of a sudden you say, “Wow, oh my gosh, yes, that's the thing that I need to do. That's what moves me.” It's a tremendous amount of energy and resource that you can direct towards what matters to you.”

The most important thing Allison has learned about inspiration is that we don’t have to wait for it to happen—we have the power to go out and do things to make it more likely that we will be inspired. Join us as we discuss how inspiration is “contagious”; how to pull ourselves out of burnout; and tips for activating inspiration when we really need it.

If you feel so inspired (pun-intended), please leave a review! I’d love to hear about what inspires you, and how you “reset” your mind to activate inspiration.

Takeaways from this episode:

  • Allison took many math and science courses early in her education, but changed trajectory when a psychology professor opened her eyes to the power of mindsets in shaping our realities.
  • Inspiration is the intersection of possibility and confidence (invincibility); when you can think of the “greater possibilities” and have a heightened sense of confidence that you can achieve it.
  • Inspiration is contagious—when you talk about it and experience it, those you are speaking with begin to feel the sense of greater possibility and invincibility that comprises inspiration.
  • If we’re inspired, there’s a good chance that we are lifting others as well.
  • To activate inspiration, you can utilize an “engine of inspiration”:
    • Voice your meaning and purpose (don’t just think it). Be clear about what drives you and what is most important to you.
    • Sometimes it helps to do a “reset”—get up and stretch, play music that is inspiring, and move in ways that are open.
    • Ask yourself “What is important about today? What kind of purpose are you bringing to your work today?” This helps to give an anchor to why your work matters.
  • Music activates emotion. Find music that is inspiring to you.
  • Burnout is the “flip side” of inspiration. It is the intersection of being physically exhausted, and the feeling of inability to accomplish anything or have a choice to influence what is happening.
  • To pull out of burnout, start by recognizing what choices you do have or where you have options.
  • From her book: “The Latin root of the word inspiration means literally to breathe in or to take a breath. Imagine experiencing that emotion as a gasp, an infusion that gives new life and excitement to the project at hand. Typically, the experience is fast like being overcome with a burst of positive energy, like a spark.

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