There’s a lot that’s ambiguous about creative work but there are two definites.
1) Creativity takes courage
2) Mistakes are mandatory
In my mind creativity is about coming up with a new idea or approach and expressing it. It is essential to let the work out to the world, to your friends or to your colleagues and that can be really scary.
For most of us our creative lives started when we were little kids with make believe, storytelling and pretend games. The wonderful thing when you watch kids creating is that they really get involved. They see one friend coming up with ideas, performing or acting silly and they get right into it themselves. There is no time made for thoughts other than – “That looks fun!” or “I have an idea too!”.
Really, they have yet to grow the part of their social brain that says “Keen isn’t cool” or “What if I make a mistake? That would be embarrassing.”
This is why creativity is ballsy. It’s why it’s work. We have to fight the experiences of our past and discouraging voices that make us want to stay quiet.
The great thing about doing workshops (I was at an amazing Tom Schlesinger one this weekend) is that you realize that you are not at all alone in this. We all want to express ourselves in some way and we’re all kinda freaked out by actually doing it.
Much of the reason I get worked up is that I’m used to striving for absolute perfection. The thing is, that’s impossible in life and even more impossible in creativity. One thing I keep noticing though is that the more that I am brave, the more mistakes I’m ok with making, the more those around me get into it. The more they try, the more they express themselves and the more they realize that mistakes can be silly and fun but they can also be valuable in both work and life.
The most important part of creativity is taking risks and making mistakes. Original work means there will be nothing to compare it against in order to define the standards of perfection. We’ve been trained against it, but really, do you think symphonies are written in one try? Great novels in one draft? Amazing businesses with the first plan or executed task? We are supposed to learn as we go.
What makes it easier is that original work comes from inside of each of us and is a result of our own mix of experiences, knowledge, passions and, sometimes, pain. This means we’re not only hardwired to create because we’re human but we have all of the material we need to make completely unique work!
I know we’re not all artists or writers or actors or ad men but we are all human and there are creative ways to do math, walk dogs, write news, deliver papers and approach our businesses.
Today join me in my challenge and find a way to stray from your comfort zone and be courageous with your ideas.
Trial and error is recognized everywhere else – why not give it a chance in your life too?