Seek inspiration from different places and people

Recently I was in the Olympic National Park revisiting a few of my favorite places, Hoh Rain Forest, and Ruby Beach. I marveled at the spectacular beauty of nature. But during my trip, a local said, “Sometimes we forget how beautiful this place is.” Now, as a Midwesterner, I have an affinity for the forest and the big waters of Lake Superior. So, Washington takes it to a whole new level. There is salt air and sea stacks, pacific surf with tide pools of unusual creatures, ferns as tall as I am, and trees a hundred times taller. The sights are one in a million. They’re different from my every day. And they definitely are a source of inspiration to me.


I realize that it may be a universally agreed-upon point – the Pacific Northwest is stunning. But different landscapes all offer an allure. Beauty, drama, and mystery may be found on the prairie, in the desert, peering across a canyon, or in the wetlands. We often look at these places with childlike wonderment and curiosity. Kids are drawn in to examine the things that are foreign. And wouldn’t it be great if it were just as natural to do this when meeting new people? Wouldn’t it be great if more of us sought out people that are as different from us as our native turf?

I wondered why when we meet people or have a chance to get to know a new person who (just like this place) is quite different from who we see and interact with, why we sometimes don’t get as excited about their differences. I’m sure some of us do this better than others. Some people make a point to seek out someone new who can bring something new to their lives. They might bring a different appreciation, understanding, or new energy to a team. And this trip has me determined to look at my figurative neighbors (who I don’t have much in common with) in a newer, brighter, shinier light and to think about my muses in all organic forms.

With that goal in mind, here are some ideas to help be intentional about learning through new human experiences.
  • Attend a cultural festival in your community that is not a part of your own heritage.
  • Visit a new museum featuring cultural, anthropological, or art from another culture.
  • Plan your next vacation somewhere you’ve never thought to go before or experience it in a way different than you always do. E.g., If you would typically stay at a hotel, camp. If you’re a city-slicker, go to the country.
  • At work, ask someone outside of your team and function for their input, opinion, or a networking lunch.
  • Invite or request a guest speaker from a different organization in to talk about their professional experiences and wisdom.
  • Follow leaders on LinkedIn who look different than you, who champion different causes than you.
  • Listen to podcasts and radio that is not your taste or political points of view.
  • Volunteer. Support kids, seniors, marginalized populations, or those helping nature.

“I’ve traveled around the world, and what’s so revealing is that, despite the differences in culture, politics, language, how people dress, there is a universal feeling that we all want the same thing. We deeply want to be respected and appreciated for our differences.” – Howard Schultz

Read on if you’re looking to ignite your creativity or embrace uniqueness.