mvpI’m often asked, “how do you come up with creative ideas?”. I usually answer, “It’s a process”. It’s true, understanding how ideas are cultivated and developed into great creative executions is why I also say, ”Creativity isn’t a talent, it’s an obligation”.

It’s this obligation that most people never learn to respect and incorporate into their creative personal and professional lives. Every great artist, designer or director of creativity uses some sort of process, bringing successful appreciation or effective results to what they create. But how much time did they spend getting there? Or, did they use the same methods every time to achieve their goals?

Author John Maxwell, author of, Talent is Never Enough, writes, “The key choices you make – apart from the natural talent you already have – will set you apart from others who have talent alone. Talent + right choices = a Talent-Plus Person.” If you have read this book, you’ll know that he is referring to a 16-step process to recognizing and behaving in a way that takes your talent to new a level of value. His steps are not just about cultivating ideas, they are about understanding your abilities and being in-tune with them to reach farther to achieve peak performance – a skill that takes an obligated attitude.

Sure, I have a process.  It’s a 9-step journey to uncovering insights and developing ideas. It is also a path to appreciating persuasion, respecting measurement and being in-tune to my creative balance – perspective and objectivity, including steps that allow for ideas to mature (incubate) and finally, understanding the difference between “execution” and “production” – there is a difference.

So if everyone uses a process, why is it that so few actually achieve greatness? It is this question that points to whether someone is seen as successful or valuable. Using a process can make you successful – just ask any ad agency. There have been many books written about process and the science of creativity. Removing subjectivity and adding a proven system for getting results differentiates one ad agency or designer from another.

It is when a creative person becomes so in-tune with their process that he or she pushes the aspects (the details) of that process to a commitment level more similar to an obsession than anything else. He becomes obligated to things like exploration, collaboration, measurement and the art of persuasion, thus becoming more valuable than others practicing the same process. Taking it to another level, this person incorporates balance in her life with other creative outlets of inspiration, helping to remove emotional bias and instilling clarity between their creative professional and personal life.

The difference between good to great shouldn’t be measured by success. Instead, greatness, associated with talent, should be valued by obligation and commitment.

“Creativity isn’t a talent, it’s an obligation.”
Advertisements

Courageously Creative

December 4, 2012

Courage

So if fear kills creativity, then what must we possess to get past it? As a teacher of creativity, I see everyday this dilemma with students. Building confidence takes time, however we can have courage to move forward, taking risks even in the face of possible failure. The benefits are: we continue to grow our creative abilities; gain experiences through these awkward circumstances; develop processes that we can trust. That said it’s always healthy to be a little afraid or intimidated with every creative endeavor.

Being humble is the first step. In fact understanding this leads to parallels with other self help programs. Having a willingness to learn, asking for help or to seek outside influence can be the difference between being left behind or evolving with the flow of the creative world. These compared with the three benefits outlined above will be the path to success in overcoming fear and finding courage to be at our creative best.

As with any challenge that we strive to pursue, there is an opportunity for growth. Early in the learning process we face hurdles in process, technique and the mechanics of software education in today’s digital creative world. These fundamentals will be a huge asset to anyone that continues to take risks and tries to achieve new skills and abilities.

The cliché’ “once bit twice shy” comes to mind when referring to the second benefit of taking risks and just taking action in the midst of fear. If we are to move past fearful execution, then we need to achieve familiar experiences that provide more comfortable situations. Each experience will help us the next time we approach either the same circumstance or a new one. Building confidence to overcome our fear by past successes in the same situation.

Lastly, the place we want to end up after taking risks and dealing with fear is a new confidence and trust in our capabilities. Newly learned skills and experiences will have an impact on how we feel about our ability to succeed in the face of fear. The knowledge that a familiar process, many times proving successful, can safely guide us through unfamiliar territory. What was once frightening is now just part of the cultivation of new ideas and creative opportunities.

Once we are comfortable to collaborate, share strengths with other creatives, not to mention being influenced by others that we can learn from in our industry, our humility transforms into an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for scary challenges that we have learned are actually an opportunity for beneficial growth. If we can embrace that fear, combined with confidence in sound practices, is just part of something better to come. We can then be more comfortable with our own creative talents, strengths and passion and be of great value to others earlier on in the courageously creative learning process.

Here is an interesting infographic that showcases the “10 doubting thoughts that can cripple creativity”