I used to think I was easily inspired.

For the past several years, the explanation for this fact usually came down to my devotion to reading. There was a time when I would specifically plan out an hour in my schedule dedicated to reading. Often it came during my morning train commute to work. I would browse articles my friends had shared online. I would read the magazines that kept arriving weekly in my mailbox at home. When I started to deliver keynote talks about how to generate big ideas and be creative, my dedicated reading time was one tip I always mentioned.

Then I started my own company.

Suddenly my nicely carved out reading time started to disappear. I didn’t have a morning commute anymore. Those free moments for reading were replaced with time to set up a new invoicing and billing system, or writing copy for a new section of my website, or finally responding to hundreds of dormant LinkedIn invitations. Reading time became a distant memory.

Yet a curious thing has happened during these last nine months. I actually started having more ideas about bigger topics. I published my second ebook in July (Always Eat Left Handed) and am on track to publish two more books before the end of the year (ePatient 2015 and my annual trend report).

Meanwhile, my limited client work (only 30% of my time) has become more diverse and more interesting. And I get to travel around the world speaking to groups as diverse as real estate developers and alcohol producers. What is the difference?

I believe being inspired comes down to three things:

  1. Feeling Empowered – Having the ability to accept (or decline) new work has insured that I only work with organizations I have a passion for. And it’s a lot easier to be inspired by clients and companies that you love.
  2. Focusing On The Long Term – As I have felt less pressure to “sell” at events, it has allowed me to have better and deeper conversations with the people I meet.
  3. Being Observant – Not setting aside time specifically for inspiration has forced me to seek it in every moment.

It is perhaps that last point which has made the biggest difference for me in being inspired. Slowly, I have realized the best inspiration might come simply from observing whatever happens to be around you – no matter how ordinary.

Anyone can sit in a room listening to a charismatic leader tell a great story and be inspired. I want to find inspiration listening to a faint radio talk show on a rainy Tuesday afternoon stuck in the back seat of a NY taxi headed to the airport.

That’s what being easily inspired really means.