The line separating inspiration and motivation is a thin one, and yet on LRN’s Leadership Framework the split is rather severe. During a recent on-boarding session, the black-and-white (or rather navy blue and light blue) difference between the terms was put into contention when it was suggested that both were on the same continuum. Indeed, when placed next to the pairing of opposites such as, “short-term outlook” vs. “vision & long-term outlook,” motivation vs. inspiration doesn’t have as flagrant of a contrast. Amid this controversy, I kept a very pensive position. While I understood the similarities between these leadership and non-leadership attributes, I also had this innate feeling that they were significantly different.
After witnessing this constructive debate regarding inspiration and motivation, I started questioning my feelings on the subject. In doing so, I reflected back on my experiences from the week before. I began interning at LRN on the heels of a Student Climate and Conservation Congress in West Virginia where I was exposed to a diverse set of leaders from the whole environmental spectrum. Diversity was the keyword throughout the entire week: we would kayak down the Potomac River with a lepidopterist who dedicated his whole life to the study of butterflies one day, and nestle around a fire to speak with a leader in the Navajo community the next. When I went back home though, all I felt was disappointment. We had all gone through the same the same program, and while some of my peers were reluctant to leave the Conference, I was reluctant to leave it empty handed. I felt like the Congress failed to benefit me. However, when debating the differentiation between inspiration and motivation and reflecting on the experience for a second time, I came to realize the whole meaning of this. The week was designed for us to absorb everything we heard, saw and felt while processing and reflecting was to be done on our own time: a message I had failed to seriously consider.