Finding Inspiration From Others
I’ve always been interested in self-development, and admit that I’ve read a lot of self-help and personal improvement books over the years. Sadly most either wind me up, make me feel worse about the fact I haven’t ‘achieved my goals’, or get me all pepped up but give me no next steps to follow.
After too long of this kind of disappointment I am trying to wean myself off the self-help. Still, sometimes something crosses my path that seems too good not to at least check out. Most still fall into one of the above categories (winding me up, making me feel bad, or leaving me adrift), but recently I’ve stumbled across a couple of books and podcasts that have made such a powerful impact on me, I just had to share them. And by impact, I mean that I actually did something bold (or what I think of as bold) after listening/reading them. I hope they might have a similar effect for anyone reading this, but if not I’m still glad I found them.
1. Podcast – Courage and Spice by Sas Petherick
Its tagline is ‘the podcast for humans with self-doubt’ which most certainly relates to me.
If you read my latest progress update where someone actually read my novel, you might already recognise this podcast as the catalyst for that coming to be. In fact, it’s also the reason this blog exists.
I still need to go back and find the specific episode that pushed me into action, but to be honest I think it was the culmination of listening to all the inspirational stories within this podcast that really helped, rather than just one single episode.
This podcast is hosted by Sas, who has such a soothing voice and beautiful way of phrasing things. She got a really interesting backstory – going from a corporate role in London to coaching, and helping others reach their dreams, living in south west England. And they guests she has on are equally as inspiring – successful bloggers, authors and entrepreneurs amongst the list. They all have different stories, but all share the characteristic of wanting something and going for it. And for me, the format, content and approach all just come together to create something inspirational and encouraging.
2. Podcast – Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert
This one is another pure inspiration podcast that makes me feel like anything is achievable. You’ll likely know Elizabeth Gilbert as the author of Eat, Pray, Love. She’s also the author of Big Magic, the book on which this podcast is based, and one I do recommend, but to be honest I prefer the podcast.
The main reason for this is that Liz (as she calls herself) takes the content of her book and uses it to coach real people on their creative projects via the podcast. In the two series (an by heavens I wish there were more) she talks to real people from all kinds of background, of all ages, all working to create something different, and helps them do it. From dancers, to writers, to poets and stand-up comedians.
Then, to add even more inspiration, she calls up some of her famous buddies to get their take on these real people’s challenges. She talks to plenty of names you’ll likely know such as Brene Brown, and Neil Gaiman, plus people I’m less familiar with, but who those of you in the relevant fields will probably know such as Cheryl Strayed and Amy Purdy.
But what gives this podcast it’s real power is that it so perfectly hits on the key issues that I’ve been dealing with, and sums up how I’ve felt or how I currently feel in a way I could never articulate on my own. That makes me realise that I’m not alone in my journey, which in itself is powerful.
There’s a wonderful mix of ‘fluffy’ inspiration mixed with cold, hard, practical advice, which all squished together, has created something very special in my opinion.
3. Book – Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Having only heard about Brene Brown for the first time a few months ago, she’s had a pretty powerful effect on my life. I’ve only read this book, so there are probably plenty more lessons I could learn from her other works, but this one was plenty to get started. It deals with the issue of shame, as do many of her books and talks, and for me shame is a real trigger point. And that’s what makes her book so relatable and useful. She brings a topic that rarely gets discussed into the light, and then gives you real and practical tips to deal with it. Well worth a read in my view.
4. Book – Flourish by Martin Seligman
My background is solidly rooted in psychology, so I’m always intrigued to read psychological works, especially those backed up by hard science, and flourish meets these criteria.
But more importantly, it is a book all about making the most of what you have and developing strengths rather than worrying too much about weaknesses. It’s all about positive psychology, which is a growing field of research in psychology and is making some pretty impressive waves in terms of helping develop people’s wellbeing and life satisfaction.
This book is less about the creative process, but is still helpful for anyone who gets caught in those worry cycles, which are some common in the creative life.
So, those are my inspirational recommendations. I plan to write a future post about some of the more technical podcasts and books I’ve come across, but these ones are all about helping you get over the hump of ‘I don’t think I can do this!’
If you’ve been there, are there, or haven’t even got there because your self-doubt is so crippling, I get it! I have been at all of those stages, and regularly return to them. But these resources proved helpful in shaking me out of my doubt, even if it was only for moments at a time. Those moments were enough to get me to start this blog, share my book for the first time, and write a few new chapters of another book. They might do the same for you.
And if you have any podcasts, books, blogs, TV shows, or anything really that have had a similar effect for you, please share. I am always on the lookout for more inspiration.