Take an Inspiration Break: An Unlikely Lesson From an ’80s Sitcom

you are your inspiration





Nell Carter, the star of the hit ’80s sitcom “Gimme A Break,” has been haunting me.  Okay, she was haunting me.

Not in a scary way.  It’s was a happy and humorous haunting.  I knew it would be the moment I heard her ghost sing that familiar tune:

“Give me a break, I sure deserve one. I want a happy ending. I’m tired of pretending. I wanna piece of the cake…give me a break!” 

It was fun to have her ghost around.  I laughed.  I sang.  I even danced a little. I did wonder, however, why she decided to haunt me.  I’m sure Nell Carter’s ghost had better things to do than hang around while I worked on client projects, wrote articles and updated my Facebook status.  After all, I was just doing ‘stuff.’

Then it hit me.  I was always busy.  Doing things.  Getting things done. Productive?Yes.  Inspired?  No.  That’s what she was trying to tell me:  I needed an inspiration break!

So, I set out on an inspiration quest and stumbled across Inspiration Break: Creative Confidence by Tim Brown, CEO at IDEO. The article, along with Nell Carter’s booming voice, reminded me that lack of “me time” often comes at a very big cost: losing your passion, creativity and confidence.

So, how do you find, or rediscover, that creative inspiration? You don’t ask for it. You seek it out. You own it. Tom and David Kelly, in their article Reclaim Your Creative Confidence, sum it up this way: “creative confidence is the ability to come up with breakthrough ideas, combined with the courage to act.”

And what about Nell Carter and her early pleas to “gimme a break?” It turns out that “Nellie Ruth” (Carter’s character on the show) found her creative confidence somewhere between Season 1 and Season 3. Nell found her ‘voice’ and the theme song evolved from a victim’s plea for help to a triumphant anthem announcing to the world that she made her own ‘breaks’ in life.

Here’s a glimpse at the transformation that made Carter’s character a role model for anyone who has the courage to discover and claim their own creative inspiration:

  • Season 3 Opening Theme (partial lyrics): “Give me a break…’cause now I know what it takes. I’m putting a face on the old one…I’m showing the world nothing can get me down. Give me a break!”

Nell Carter’s ghost doesn’t haunt me anymore.  I miss her laughter and joy, but her message is alive and well:  no one will give you a break unless you have the courage to make your own first.

How ’bout it?  Are you ready for an inspiration break?

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