Being a Creator in a Follower’s World

Being a Creator in a Follower’s World


Let’s promise to be more creative.

I’m always amazed at how comfortable our world is at simply following others. Playing it safe is easy and enticing, but you might be squandering your full potential. We get good jobs, hope for a $1 raise every year, invest in insurance, and live out our days. It’s a shame that many creative people hide their true colors in hopes of staying safe. Do you agree?

Shouldn’t we be encouraging the boundless creativity that makes our human race so unique and wonderful?

What does it mean to be creative?

Creativity is doing things differently. It’s creating things and ideas and feelings. It’s learning from the creatives who came before you. It means innovating. It means improving. It means inventing. It means creating any type of work that pushes things forward in some way. It’s about creating work that makes something better. Creativity defines art. Creativity grows business. Creativity breeds life and inspiration.

“The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances— are the primary sources of creativity.” — Margaret J. Wheatley

Decide what you want to do.

I’m not here to tell you to be an artist. I’m not here to tell you to quit your job. I’m here to tell you to be creative in whatever way feels right to you.

“I want to put a ding in the Universe.” – Steve Jobs

Maybe you’re an artist hoping to make a name for yourself. If that’s true, find some way to be different and inspire people with your work. Keep creating and putting your ideas out there. Nothing should be enough for you. Make a state of constant creation and inspiration your goal. Keep making things!

Maybe you’re not an artist at all. Maybe you work in an office managing a team or designing software. If that’s true, find some way to challenge yourself and make new creative ways to solve the problems in your work. Don’t aimlessly follow. Don’t settle for the $1 raise. Put some passion into your work and impress yourself with your creativity.

Try new things.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. I’m tired of watching folks pass up opportunities to showcase their ideas. All of the most successful projects I’ve ever done have started as ideas that I jumped at the opportunity to try. I usually throw things out there (sometimes anonymously) and see what happens. Sometimes they fail and sometimes they work. Regardless, I’m always thankful that I experimented and put the ideas out there.

“Bold action in the face of uncertainty is not only terrifying, but necessary in the pursuit of great work. ” – Jonathan Fields

Additionally, I’d like to see more artists seeking originality. Have you ever noticed how often trends take over? About a year ago, it seemed like every illustrator on the internet was making at least one piece with a whale in it. Other times I noticed that every photographer had at least one “hovering” body photo in their portfolio. Funny, but true. None of them seemed particularly original and it was often very obvious that they saw the idea elsewhere. Let’s change this. Instead of piggybacking off the unique ideas of others, let’s do something new. Turn on some of your favorite music, open up your imagination, and throw something out there from your heart.

Never fear criticism or failure.

I’m convinced that humans hide their natural creativity because they are afraid. We’re afraid it won’t be safe to deviate from the secure. We’re afraid people won’t like our work. Let’s take a minute to address how unhelpful these fears are. Creativity is always better. Ideas that fail will lead to better ideas that succeed! Give it a try and you’ll find that creating makes you feel so much more alive than following. You just may create something remarkable. Either way, it’s worth it.

“F-ck self-doubt. I despise it. I hold it in contempt, along with the hell-spawned ooze-pit of resistance from which it crawled. I will never back off. I will never give the work anything less than 100%. If I go down in flames, so be it. I’ll be back.” -Steven Pressfield

Furthermore, creating something that people don’t like or something that doesn’t work isn’t as scary as you might think! In my experience, people are usually impressed with any attempt at innovation. Even my most failed ideas are greeted with appreciation for trying. If someone really hates an idea, they won’t be thinking about it for long. The cruel truth is, people are usually thinking about themselves. Once you realize that, it will open you up to be creative in everything you do. The critics aren’t thinking about you, they’re thinking about how great they feel when they criticize (and then move onto criticizing someone else). Critics are bitter followers who aren’t looking to contribute like you are.

Have fun. Be inspired.

One of the best parts of my job is that I work with brilliant creative people around the world (like you). One thing I can say for sure is that we have fun! With some exceptions, the best artists I know are the ones having the most fun. It’s because creating is fun. It makes you feel alive and it makes you feel worthwhile. Humans were meant to create, innovate, and build.

“Rules should always be bent, if not broken. It’s the only way to have any fun.” – Alyson Noel

Have fun with this. Create a life you’re proud of… a creative life! We all want to feel like we make a difference, right? Therefore we need to BE different. Create, Nonsense Society. Create and don’t ever stop.

by Chris Collins // NT / IMB / TIE / NS