in Creativity, Motivation, Philosophy

A Beautiful Mess

“There are some people who have trouble recognizing a mess.” – Bill Cosby

When we get creative things get messy. Period. Well, that gets messy too but I hear there are some fantastic feminine hygiene products available!

Lately i’ve been working with people who aren’t comfortable with the messiness. They want to make a bee line for the final product. Seldom if ever is that going to generate the most creative result.

You don’t get the benefit of making grand mistakes along the way. Hence, you don’t learn as much. This doesn’t mean that you need to keep putting your hand on the stove. In fact, i’m sure the stove will press charges if you do. It just means that you reflect on the experience. What worked, what didn’t and how to do better next time!

The process is never going to be streamlined. It’s going to be messy and you’re going to have to clean up after yourself.


The kid on the left went on to become the Joker. Holy crap, what did they put in the slime? He’s enjoying himself a little too much.

There’s a great story about how we could teach kids from an early age how to start thinking about life. I don’t remember it exactly but here it goes!

A research scientist was being interviewed by a reporter who asked him what he thought made him more creative than your average Joe.

I remember being a kid and trying to get a bottle of milk from the fridge. Well, the bottle was slippery and I lost my grip. Smash! The bottle hit the floor and there was milk EVERYWHERE!

When mom came into the kitchen, instead of screaming at me or punishing me she said: ‘Oh, what a beautiful mess you’ve made! I’ve never seen such a huge puddle of milk! Well, the damage is done. Do you want to play with the milk for a while before we clean it up?’. Boy, did I!

After playing for a while mom said: ‘You know, whenever you make a mess like this, you have to clean it up. How do you want to do it? You could use a towel, sponge or a mop. Which would you prefer?’. I chose the sponge and we cleaned it up together!

Then she said: “You know, this is just the result of a failed experiment to carry a big bottle of milk with two small hands. Let’s fill a bottle with water, go out in the back yard and find a way to carry it without dropping it’.

What I learned was that if i grasped it at the top I could carry it without problems. But the bigger lesson was that I didn’t need to be afraid to make mistakes.

Mistakes were just opportunities to learn something new. Which is, after all, what scientific experiments are all about. Even if the experiment doesn’t work, we usually learn something valuable from it.

Milk Bruce Lee

Be dairy my friend!

Learn from your mistakes and come back wiser. Share your experinces with those who come after you. They’ll make their own mistakes but they might wisen up quicker than you think!

Go out there and make a beautiful mess!

“I know when I’m getting ready to mess up, I’m going to do it full-on.” – Sandra Bullock

“Some days I totally appreciate everything that’s happening to me, and some days I feel everyone’s waiting for me to mess up.” – Taylor Swift

“I think you have to let go of this idea that you can be precious about everything, and let it be the abstract mess that it is.” – Ryan Reynolds

“It’s crazy how you can get yourself in a mess sometimes and not even be able to think about it with any sense and yet not be able to think about anything else.” – Stanley Kubrick

“In limits, there is freedom. Creativity thrives within structure. Creating safe havens where our children are allowed to dream, play, make a mess and, yes, clean it up, we teach them respect for themselves and others.” – Julia Cameron

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