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Inspiration Comes from Many Windows

Robert Regis Hyle | September 29, 2014

Last weekend I had the opportunity to view a masterpiece up close. Grant Wood’s American Gothic, possibly the most well-known American piece of art from the 20th century, was on loan to the Cincinnati Art Museum near my home.

Most people are familiar with the painting, but it wasn’t until I read the brochure at the museum that I learned the inspiration for this work of art was the window on the second floor of the country home that stands behind the couple. Such a small detail for many of us—something that goes unnoticed to millions of eyes—is what inspired this great artist.

It’s just another example that to be inspired to do great things, whether it is through art or something more mundane like insurance technology, you have to be open to every possibility. That is one reason the world we live in is so exciting. The possibilities that come through change and improved performance are available to all of us if we keep our eyes open for what seemingly are the smallest of details.

We talk about innovation a great deal these days. Transformation is another word heard frequently. These are important because they don’t simply mean change, they mean change for the better. Inspiration is a word that should join them. We cannot innovate or transform anything without something to inspire us to do so.

Many people believe profits or higher salaries can be inspiration enough, but financial terms aren’t sufficient for long-lasting improvement. Those developing technology or creating art do so because they believe in it. They believe they can find a simpler way of doing things or a better way to help others. They are looking beyond what is right in front of them—in the case of American Gothic the couple with the pitchfork—and instead focus on the unique design of a window on a simple country home.

So technologists have to keep searching for their window; the one thing that could inspire them to do something great and transform business the way Grant Wood transformed art. Just be sure to keep your eyes open. You never know when you are going to see what you didn’t know you were looking for.

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