I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of fantasy fiction but the other day I stumbled across this quote from one of the overlords of the genre, Terry Pratchett:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

This resonated with me – not in an epic South-East Asia voyage of discovery sense but in a pop to the corner shop sense. Because inspiration is all around us and the great thing about it is that you don’t have to go looking for it – it searches you out, often at the moments you least expect it.

As we prepare for the first proper “Back to School/Work/College” moment in three years, we are better equipped than ever to breathe in the inspiration around us – the COVID experience taught us how to better connect with nature, with everyday experiences and with each other. In both a personal and professional sense, the important thing now is not to lose this heightened sense of awareness – we’ve rediscovered the beauty which lies in the simple things in life so let’s not cloud that by re-immersing ourselves in drama and distraction.

Working as part of H+K’s Innovation + Creativity team brings a particular expectation – “Go on then, be innovative, give me something creative!” – but this doesn’t need to be a show-stopping strategy or an award-winning idea (although both would be handy!), it can be a simple sentence or a gesture of encouragement at a challenging time. If we add all of our individual inspiration together it amounts to a collective creative treasure trove worth its weight in Cannes Lion gold.

Although inspiration is never going to be available on demand, I do think there are things we can do to help cajole it from the quiet corners of our lives. In my case, I’m really enjoying walking to and from work (insert blatant plug for H+K’s Stride + Ride initiative here) as it forces you to look around you – the thing that sparks a good working day might be a smile, an overheard conversation or a billboard but the point is you’re never going to see it if you’re not looking. If your head is buried in a mobile or a laptop, you’re effectively locking yourself in your own creative bedroom. And there’s too much going on in the world to stay there for long.

People far more intelligent than me have said this, but breaks really help too. I’ve actually just taken a quick break from writing this in the hope that I’ll be inspired to finish it off! And, yes, it worked – thanks to a spot of sunshine in a nearby park. The relaxation in office culture gives us ample opportunity to build this into our working day.

Dragging yourself out of your comfort zone is another way to invite inspiration into our lives – again, this doesn’t have to be an overnight obsession with an obscure martial art or death metal band, it could be as simple as a new book. I’ve been reading a bit of Japanese fiction recently and the style is so calm and relaxing it makes you think of things differently, at least for a little while.

Let’s make sure that wherever we’re going back to this September, it isn’t somewhere we’ve been before.