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Under normal circumstances, we complain about not getting enough motivation from the seniors at work, or from co-workers, or from friends in social circle, or from family at home. Probably this is the most commonly lodged complaint, mostly to no one in particular. It is presented more as a statement of fact. What do we do these days?

For those of us whose work is virtually shut down, there is not even #Workfromhome. The motivation, or lack of it from bosses and co-workers is no more relevant. Social activity is at a standstill. The only activity which is happening all the time is Family at home.

Pakistani men are generally not considered gracious home-sitters. This has its roots in the patriarchal structure of society mixed with the concept of hijab between genders. The classical ‘Mardan Khana’ or Men’s Area is still a fixture in many households. Women are not allowed to go there, except maybe for cleaning the place.. In the more urban households, Mardan Khana has been replaced by the so-called Drawing Room, where strangers are entertained. Family and close people are invited to the living room, which signifies the closeness of relationship.

The moral of the story is the Pakistani men are stuck with families and most likely their families are also stuck with them. Pakistani women are also used to running the household without their men poking their noses in home affairs. The much-needed motivation is not coming from here also.

Just like Corona, this inactivity also has had a curve.

In the beginning, the joy of Godsend lockdown holidays rose sharply. The curve reached its peak within the first week. Then there was extension, and the curve started flattening. If there is a further extension in lockdown, the curve will go into negative; become inverse.

I wish Corona spread would also follow the same trajectory.

This picture represents all those who have a permanent employment and who are not facing imminent threat of becoming jobless.

The story of those who have been laid off or have lost income sources already, is one laced with anxiety, apprehension, fear and hopelessness. We should talk about them also. But first we need to inspire us; only then we may be able to do something for them. When you travel by air, the crew runs through the safety instructions. One instruction is always given for the situation where cabin pressure may drop, and oxygen masks would drop automatically. It is explicitly instructed that first fix your own mask and then help your companion. This is important. If you are gasping for breath yourself, you will not be able to help the other person. And by the time, you return to your own self, you may be beyond help due to time lag. It is imperative to equip yourself quickly so that efficient help may be offered.

I therefore propose that we first fix our mask, inspire us first.

How can we inspire ourselves? What measures can we take? Please note that I am not talking of motivation. So, what is the difference between Motivation and Inspiration?

I just googled this question and it returned 48.6 million replies (in 0.64 seconds as boasted). The difference must be huge to justify 48 million responses. However, I think we can focus on one key difference.

Motivation is driven by Motive; an external source. It may be appreciation, incentive, attraction, or benefit of some kind. Strength of Motivation is linked to the size of Motive. Motivation may be a compelling force also, such as in Fear Motivation, where action has to be done to avoid reprimand or loss. Motivation, therefore, may be rather short-lived, and same motive may not create same amount of motivation next time.

Inspiration is internal, intrinsic. It is a call from within to get up and take action. Inspiration drives us by itself; no reward expected. Inspiration is not time-bound and lasts over long periods; may be even a lifetime. Abdul Sattar Edhi sahib was inspired by his internal calling to serve the less privileged of the society and he spent his entire life for that.

I would again draw your attention to from where we started. At this time, in the first place, motivation is hard to come by; secondly, everyone is looking for motivation for self, not offering it to others. This is the time to look for INSPIRATION.

How do we get inspired?

There are several recommended ways to develop inspiration. If you collect several recommendations and add them up, the total may run into hundreds. The running theme in most of these things is the same; find something that triggers inspiration.

What triggers are available in these days? I see the following. You may add more.

Enormity and Impact – Corona is an event of unprecedented size. We had never seen anything like it in our lifetime and certainly neither hope nor desire to see something like this again. It has already reached all corners of the world and has seized the entire human race on the face of earth. It has marched at a great pace and no measure has been adequate enough to stop it. The best that could be achieved was delaying the progress. This truce is very fragile and can break with slightest provocation. The impact is also huge. The tallest economies have fallen like cards, and trillions have been wiped off. The losses are individual and collective; national and international; from the rich and famous to poorest of the poor, and from income loss to life loss. These are hugely strong triggers. The more we think about it, the more we realize the hugeness of the entire thing. However, our inherent resilience inspires us to get up, take command, and do good. Don’t mind the small number of opportunists and corrupt people; they will be outnumbered and outcompeted. Our Inspiration to contribute to overcoming this Godzilla of calamity shall keep us up and going.

Compassion – This is the most desirable commodity at this time and a great trigger to inspire. Compassion is not sympathy. We sympathize when we are fine, but the other person is suffering. We are all suffering, and almost in equal measure, though in different ways. We all need sympathy one way or the other. Compassion is when we feel the others’ pain in more of less the same way, and act to provide relief. Compassion inspires us to treat others with same affection and care that we usually reserve for the few selected, dear ones. Current scenario is like a war; everyone is wounded, including the medics. The way out is to bandage one another, give whatever relief possible to each other, and most importantly, not wait for someone fit and able to come and take care of the fallen. Compassion inspires us to do our bit, even if it may be small. After all, small bits put together make up the big. At this time, compassion is already in the air. Innumerable individuals are doing small acts of compassion worldwide. We may be shy, but we are capable of deep compassion. Let your compassion rise and inspire you.


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