An Appreciation of Inspiration

Recently CBS News shared an infographic defining generation guidelines. Curiously, Gen X was missing from this graphic. This omission led to some online fun.

NonGenX

As often is the case with internet funnies, I went down a rabbit hole of Gen X jokes and ended up taking an online quiz to see which Gen X characteristics I inhabit.

  • Independent/ Self Sufficient– Check! That’s totally me.
  • Results oriented– Brushes shoulder off.
  • Embrace hands off management style– Nailed me!
  • Work/Life Balance very important– Yup!
  • Casual Disdain for Authority– Looks over recently brushed off shoulder. Uhh…
  • Cynical– Well….

That last characteristic is a double edged sword. I had fun taking this quiz, but because of that trait, I’m skeptical of its accuracy.

As silly as these tests are, it is beneficial to be self aware of your shortcomings. For me, I realize that if I’m not careful, cynicism can close me off to new experiences as well as inspiration. I’ve found that they often go hand in hand. A new experience can lead to a jolt of inspiration.

Inspiration comes from unexpected places. I was recently at a club to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, an English musician with an insanely entertaining live show. I enjoy a wide range of music, but especially appreciate the smaller acts, the more intimate clubs, and the comradery those venues foster.

I came into the show already expecting to be entertained based on past experience. Little did I know that the opening act would accelerate my enjoyment of the evening. I’m a sucker for blending classical instruments with more traditional rock, and punk elements, and the opening act had a cellist that knocked my socks off. It was a performance I had never experienced. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, and was inspired…to purchase some of their music.

*Paying for music, total Gen X thing to do.

One of the last times I was inspired, was at the Annual Conference. Now what traits do a professional conference share with going to a show? For me, I believe the inspiration comes from a place of passion, authenticity and talent. I’ve never walked away from a conference, not being inspired by a speaker, a peer, or a late night chat at a social. Often I find inspiration at the Awards Banquet. (Free plug for submitting awards nominations!) It is such a joy to see and hear what everyone is doing in their communities. New Professional and Agency of the Year acceptance speeches are often highlights for me, and almost always a source of motivation. I could list multiple individuals that have moved me with their words.

But I won’t.

It’s almost Summer and I’m trying to keep the word count reasonable! The talent to implement the programs and projects that propel our members to be recognized is evident. The passion to push through all the hurdles, the red tape, the bureaucracy, the long days, finding a kernel of positivity from a flop, are all part of this formula. Most importantly, I think the authenticity of those that put all of themselves into this profession go along way in penetrating this Gen Xer’s waning cynicism, and breed the inspiration that I’m so immensely appreciative of.

Author: Mike Erno

Director of Parks & Recreation, Hampden Township

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