During the holidays we often get caught up in a rush of gift giving and social events. But, at a deeper level, in many ways, this season is about finding inspiring moments for oneself and others that can extend well beyond the parties and presents.

Inspiration truly is at the core of our business. Internally, we strive to craft elevated concepts, designs, strategies and technologies. And, we hope those translate externally to inspire action among the people who engage with the work we create.

In an article from MIT Sloan School of Management, Tim Brown, Ideo’s president and CEO, shared three important phases of design: inspiration, ideation and implementation. Brown notes that if you skip inspiration, ideation is of little value. You can’t have ideas in the abstract. He defined inspiration as the collection of insights, and stated that being inspired begins with empathy. It is important to understand how people experience the world physically, cognitively and emotionally, and how groups work and cultures behave.

Cognitive scientist Scott Kaufman shared his thinking in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Inspiration Matters”: “In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities."

Inspiration enables progress toward goals. In a recent study on inspiration and goal achievement, researchers noted that goal progress and inspiration build on each other to form a cycle of greater goal inspiration and pursuit. In the study, inspired individuals reported experiencing more purpose in life and more gratitude.

Kaufman goes on to share that “another incredibly important, and often overlooked trigger of inspiration is exposure to inspiring managers, role models and heroes." As Gregory Dess and Joseph Picken note in “Changing Roles: Leadership in the 21st Century,” our competitive global economy requires leaders to shift their focus from efficient management to effective utilization of a company’s diversity of resources. They argue for five key roles of leadership:

What inspires you, your team and your company? Ultimately, are those inspirations conveyed in the communication that connects customers to your brand?