The Number One Killer of Your Creativity — and Your Accomplishments

I’m in the middle of writing two books.

Ok, not really ‘the middle.’

"Book" by Noah Dibley, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
“Book” by Noah Dibley, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

I say ‘the middle’ because I’ve started writing the books — one of which is available now for subscribers before I finish blowing it up into a full book for sale.

Two Books? Foolish and optimistic me!

I know there’s plenty more to write. I have a long road of editing and design ahead of me. I also have a other interests and demands pulling at my time. I may never finish these books, perhaps another book will come knocking… But if I don’t write these,

No one will!

Am I worried I’ll fail? That these books will fall flat? That I’ll look like a fool?

Absolutely.

The Creativity Killer

Regret is one of our strongest driving forces. When we don’t succeed to the standards we set, we regret even making them.

“Look at Jeffrey, he thought he could write a book! No, two!

We’re terrified of other peoples’ opinions on our failures or our choices. All of us.

In decision making, letting someone else’s opinion of an outcome shape that decision is deadly. Creativity and accomplishments are squashed when…

People fear the opinion of others!

Yet we generally don’t know the outcome of a decision. We might not know it for days or weeks or months. We don’t even know all of the forces that come into play!

When we think about how other might see our potential failures, we revise our plans. We scale back our ambitions. We reduce our risk.

We make safe, conventional choices which we can more easily defend.

“No one was ever fired for buying I.B.M!”

  • In a creative sense, we might think to ourselves “What if no one likes ‘it’?”
  • In a business setting, “What if my ambitious project fails?”
  • An entrepreneur might hesitate, “What if this idea goes nowhere?”
  • At a party, “What if I have a different opinion?”
  • A podcast guest might worry, “What if my clients hear me spilling the beans?”

(Yeah that last one has happened to me, more than once. People are guarded about their professional lives and reputation. I’m no exception, I understand.)

By caving to these thoughts about the judgement of others, we increase our chances of a

Mediocre Product or Outcome — or Existence!

Changing our behavior in response to the naysayers becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy towards bland, middle-of-the-road plans.

Little risk, little reward, little criticism, little accomplishments.

That mountain is there, with or without us. We can regret our actions, or we can regret our inaction. The mountain doesn’t care. Oh yeah, and there’s another mountain behind it…

Mountains… waiting for you!

We must stand strong in our own ideas, and let the regret of not taking action drive our momentum forward.

Image "Put your hands up in the air" by Thomas Leuthard, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Image “Put your hands up in the air” by Thomas Leuthard, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
When we succeed, people celebrate us. When we fail, we fail alone.

And that, my friends, is a great thing. It means that we can get back up again, we can try again, we can test a new approach and apply our lessons learned.

No one is really there pointing fingers and laughing. (If they are, ignore the haters.) Everyone’s busy tending to their own problems.

When we fail…

  • Our mindset determines if we learn from our failures and get back up.
  • Our mindset determines if we see confirmation of our fears or handholds to climb higher.
  • Our mindset determines if we judge our lives by the yardstick of others.
Failure is not an option

Embrace failure as a learning experience. Take bigger (calculated) risks to get bigger rewards. Because when you’re taking risks…

Failure is a guarantee

As a person of influence, your job is to help others see the regret they may have from inaction. Link the pain of failure to inaction, to the status quo of mediocrity.

Reframe the situation towards better outcomes by taking action in life, by risking a little more, by pushing a little harder. Embrace the random unknown that awaits us in either case.

Success doesn’t happen over night. It might look that way because no one really pays attention to the failures of others. Everyone is focused on their own life, which means you can build your skills and knowledge until you seemingly “come out of nowhere!”

In the mean time, I’ll continue writing.

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