Are You Inspiring Inspiration?

by Susan Nemetz, October 2019

It’s no secret that the topic of commercialization can be quite tedious in most of the environments we all work. We live in a world of PowerPoint templates, changing teams, external vendors, timelines, budgets, and shiny-object-chasing executives (you know who you are).

In most cases, though, the day to day routine and grind is not what brought us here all those years (decades?) ago. With few exceptions, our longer-term inspiration springs from a desire to ensure that the cutting edge treatments we fight so hard for will reach the patients we serve.

Our work can take many years to reach that higher goal, a reality which may mean we are left slogging through the motions, more often than not. That doesn’t sound very inspiring, does it? But inspiration is critical, especially under these circumstances.

The HBR article, Why Inspiration Matters, points out, “Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities.”

What role can inspiration play in our commercialization work? More specifically…

  • How do we inspire our teams to think big and think creatively?
  • How do we mobilize inspiration to improve what we do and how we do it?
  • How can inspiration guide us in building and managing our respective teams?
  • How do we stay motivated and inspired – and do the same for others – over the long-term?


Look Broadly for Inspiration

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending two conferences – neither of which related to life sciences, but both replete with inspiration: Young people with a purpose; technology innovators pushing the limits of what is possible; entrepreneurs striving to include people of color for whom barriers to starting and growing a business can seem insurmountable. I was in awe, and I was inspired!

Many other things can serve to open our minds and provide the energy we need to do our work each day, provided we look for them:

I am inspired by… patients and their caregivers, especially when it involves parents with sick children or adult children with sick parents.

I am inspired by… people that remake themselves, whether from a life set-back, substantial debt, substance disorder, or the impact of deep disregard by others, systemic or individual.

I am inspired by… leaders who have a visceral belief in their people, who put them first and still build successful businesses. These men and women approach their roles with both humility and strength, helping others feel valued in the process.

I am inspired by… athletes who put everything else aside, training for years to perfect their craft and achieve greatness on a world stage. (Did somebody say “Simone Biles,” who achieves unparalleled heights of inspiration? [pun intended])

I am inspired by…  first responders, medical personnel, and those individuals that put their lives on the line to protect and serve others.

I am inspired by… innovation itself and those who uncover it, chase it, and bring it to life, wherever that may be.

I recognize that some of us may be more in search of inspiration than others. But I also know that inspiration is contagious and that sharing it frequently and broadly can have an impact that we may not see. It feels expansive, opening up intellectual curiosity and opportunity, even when it is unrelated to the deliverable we have in front of us.

Some possibilities for getting the inspiration ball rolling:

  • Sharing inspiring stories, writings, podcasts, and videos (TedMed videos are a terrific source for these!)
  • Asking others to reveal and discuss things that inspire them, both generally and in recent events
  • Demonstrating empathy by acknowledging the challenges our colleagues face, both personal and professional, and letting them know that we SEE them and are moved by the way they have responded

However you can bring inspiration to yourself and others, that same HBR article offers some clear encouragement: “An easy first step is simply recognizing the sheer potency of inspiration, and its potential impact on everything we do.”


Posted in All Categories, Organizational Development and Culture, Vision