Inspiration as Strategy

When I was 13, my Spanish teacher showed the documentary of the legendary Cuban band, Buena Vista Social Club. Spanish had felt largely irrelevant. That film, though, took me beyond myself. I wanted to understand what all that joy was about...what they were dance like that.

I printed out the lyrics to El Cuarto de Tula and practiced singing along at night until I could keep up.

Some of the most satisfying moments of my life have involved Spanish, including a night spent drinking more mojitos than necessary and dancing in Havana to a live band playing the same song, including with one of the band members of the Buena Vista Social Club who was still alive.

But Spanish also unexpectedly enabled my career.

It got me hired as a career coach for a company that had initially turned me down. Instead of hiring me, they hired someone who was wildly more qualified. 

Then, one day, they had a Puerto Rican client. They called me up, asking me to start Monday.

“Act like you’re not new.”

What if your interests, the things you’re inspired to learn or do are not just things for fun, or for self-care, but they’re highly strategic? Maybe you just don’t get to know how they’re strategic until later.

When my clients give themselves space to be inspired, or they act on their inspiration, I celebrate. It’s strategic. Not necessarily because if they’re interested in learning how to make dumplings, that means they’ll later be hired to do it, but because if they’re enjoying making dumplings, they’re in an elevated mental state.

The research indicates that we’re more effective when in an elevated state. Not that we needed research to know that.

If you want better ideas and a more effective strategy, I recommend an energy-first approach.

It may sound touchy-feely, but it’s a discipline. We all know the experience of taking a break from a problem and the solution appearing when driving, in the shower, or in the middle of the night.

What if you not only knew when to stop beating your head against the wall, but also intentionally created space for cultivating inspiration? A friend of mine found her business exploded when she started taking mornings off for yoga and sitting around having coffee and thinking.

She works, too. It’s just that she’s doing more of the right work.

When you’re in an elevated state, my guess is that you’re more magnetic, energized, creative, and fun to be around. 

That’s strategic for everything job search and business-building. Just like how loving people is an effective strategy for networking.

I’d love to be an ally to you. You can always set up a free call here.

Thanks, I’m in your corner.


Emma Garrett is an Executive Career Coach, helping high-integrity leaders position themselves for what’s next in work and life. Ready to start doing things differently? Consider scheduling a free call to share your situation and goals or checking out the resources at