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Ah, inspiration.

The one thing that keeps us going, right? The thing that wakes us up in the morning, ready to conquer the world (or just your day, that’s good too). The thing that makes us wonder and imagine and dream and work hard to follow those dreams.

Except, it doesn’t.

You see, we like the idea of thinking that the things we do are being delivered from on high by some sort of power or faith or destiny. That there’s something out there helping us, pushing us to go forward every day.

Inspiration is important, but it’s not all of it.

In fact, I’ve found that inspiration is just a tiny little part of getting shit done. “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration” goes the old saying by Thomas Edison. That’s probably more true and realistic than we think.

The same applies to motivation. Motivation and inspiration are great to help you start something. Start that book you always wanted, start to go to the gym, eat healthier, take a new class, and so much more. Now, to finish these things? That’s a totally different business.

Maybe you watch a video about getting healthier and finally decided to go to the gym. Inspiration and motivation might take you there for the first few times. But it’s not “motivation” that will make you go there every weekday for 12 straight freaking months. No amount of motivation in the world has the power to do that.

No, you need something else to keep you going. Motivation and inspiration are too unreliable. You can’t count on them when you want or need them.

But back to the subject.

I have no more grandfathers and grandmothers. They all passed away. I miss them. I have lots of memories about them, but the one I want to share with you today is one about… their hands.

Their hands were a piece of art. More than hands, years of labor have transformed them into something like living breathing tools.

Shaking hands with my grandfather, I could smell the earth and feel each injury and callouses stacking on top of each other like endless layers of those fancy cakes on TV shows. You wouldn’t want to be hit by those hands.

You can not buy hands like that. You have to earn them. And that requires years and years of the “hand-in-the-dirt” mentality.

This mentality is something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my work as a designer, an area that is often fueled by this “inspiration” stuff.

Instead of starring at a blank paper (or screen) waiting for “inspiration” to strike, I’ve found myself having more success by approaching the craft like a laborer, a painter, a craftsman, a plumber, a farmer. Like my grandfather earning his hands.

Instead, I think we should get up every morning and just try to beat the sun that day.

If you’re tired, you go to the field anyway.

If you’re sick, you go to the field anyway.

If you’re not “feeling like”, you go to the field anyway.

If you’re uninspired, you go to the field anyway.

You go to the field anyway, dig your hands in the dirt and you earn them that day.