So this post has its roots back in 2012 and that amazing summer. I am not ashamed to admit that I loved every single minute of the London Olympics and, if you ask my son, he'll tell you 2012 was his best year ever. We'd cheered the Olympic flame when it came through Reading, we'd loved the Opening Ceremony and we'd got more and more excited with every medal and every day.
One morning during that rather unforgettable fortnight, son and I hauled ourselves out of bed at some crazy-early time and made our bleary-eyed way onto a London-bound train with lots of other half-awake, half-excited people. Just the night before, I'd managed to get two tickets for us to watch the hockey in the Olympic Park. I'd not chosen them with any plan in mind or because son or I were particular fans of hockey but because I wanted us to share in the excitement of just being there...
And yes, it was everything I hoped it would be. Brilliant, wonderful, amazing and something son and I will have forever. At the time, there was talk everywhere about the legacy of the Olympics - would it, could it, inspire a generation?
Fast forward two years and son comes to me, asking if I would help him sign up to his local hockey team. He'd played the last season at school, was pretty good and thanks for to a couple of encouraging games masters prodding him along a little, he wanted to join a club to get better. He knew he had to work hard, he knew he had lots to learn and lots of time to give up but he didn't care. He was inspired.
"What started all this off?" I asked him one cold Sunday morning, post hockey match when we were driving home, desperately trying to warm up.
He looked at me like I was a complete idiot. "What do you mean?"
"This love of hockey. Where did it come from?"
"When we went to the Olympics," he said, still incredulous that I could have to ask such a stupid question.
I genuinely hadn't made the connection. I'd lost the link somewhere in there between Olympic action, finally playing at school and then wanting to join a club. But my son hadn't. He'd not lost that spark of inspiration that had flickered into being two years before. It had stayed with him, it had grown, he'd tested it out and then, when he was happy, he was ready to commit to it. And commit he has. Freezing training sessions in the cold, matches that mean he loses huge chunks of his weekend and the inevitable ups and downs of sport. The inspiration is still there.
This has got me thinking about inspiration and the fact it has no use-by date. We all love to read the latest inspiring book, attend an inspirational workshop and talk to inspirational people. And so we should because we absolutely need these things and many more beside to keep us motivated and moving forward. But it's not a race to use that inspiration before it runs out for things that truly move you stay deep inside for a long time.
'Being inspired' isn't something that should come with added pressure - how to harness it, use it and leap forward because of it. It can stay with you, quietly, until you need it or until the time is right. Then you bring it out, dust it off and find it to be as good as ever it was.
Inspiration does not need manipulation. The time will come when you can use it - whether that's because a project pops up or because you decide you're ready to move. Don't push it, don't force yourself to act immediately - 'quick quick, I've been inspired, what can I do now now now?' - because the best kind of inspiration, the long-lasting, never-ending inner power, is always there.
So, be a bit kind to yourself. Don't panic because you've read a book/been on a course/talked to someone amazing and you've not leapt into action within days. If you've been truly and genuinely moved, have no fear. Inspiration will never leave you.