Monday, December 26, 2011

Habits For Creativity, Failure to... Success

I just read Dean Rieck's 8 Bad Habits that Crush Your Creativity And Stifle Your Success. I thought it was a great article (found here) and just wanted share a few comments that came to mind when I read it.  Given the following definitions:

  • Creating:     generating new ideas, visualizing, looking ahead, considering the possibilities.
  • Evaluating:  analyzing and judging, picking apart ideas and sorting them into piles of good and bad, useful and useless.
It's easy to see how completely anti-creative evaluating is while creating.  Don't pick it apart before you figure out what it is, you may never get it out.  So this immediately brought to mind a practice (aka habit) I circle in and out of from time to time, including when writing my blogs.  It's a process called freewriting.
  • Freewriting is an exercise designed to clear mental and/or emotional space and to allow ideas to come to the surface before you think, edit, sort, etc. In a freewriting exercise, you don't take your pen off the paper (finger off the keys). You keep writing even if you draw a blank "I don't know what to write", "I don't know what to write"...  The results are for your eyes only, so you don't stop to tidy up sentences, grammar, spelling. You may diverge from the topic, but that's ok and part of the exercise.  You keep writing for about 10 minutes.  Then you go back and review what you wrote and within you'll find ideas to work with for your topic.  You may also find some ideas that are otherwise blocking you and need to be addressed separately - later.
Bottom line as Dean said: "Most people evaluate too soon and too often, and therefore create less. In order to create more and better ideas, you must separate creation from evaluation, coming up with lots of ideas first, then judging their worth later."  Use freewriting to get it all out there and then work from too much info towards more finely crafted ideas.  Then it's much easier format as appropriate for the medium and audience you are targeting.

Failure - To Fear or Embrace.
Babe Ruth, full-length portrait, standing, fac...
Image via Wikipedia

Dean uses Babe Ruth as an example of not fearing failure.  With 714 home runs, he was truly one of baseball's greatest hitters. He was also a master of striking out. But that’s because he always swung for the fences, all-in, home run or strike out, nothing in between. The Babe either succeeded big or failed big.  Babe didn't necessarily learn from his failures, they were just an accepted cost for his success.

Sir James Dyson is an example I like to use.  He said that an inventor's life is one of failure.  He made 5,127 prototypes of his vacuum before he got it right. That means there were 5,126 failures en route. By learning from each failure, he came up with the ultimate vacuum. Seeing why something fails can suggest another path, which may lead to success.  "No one wants to make mistakes or fail. But if you try too hard to avoid failure, you’ll also avoid success."


addtl info: Failure Doesn't Suck

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