“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams
One of the worst things I’ve heard people, especially leaders, repeat again and again is the phrase: “We can’t get it wrong.”
In many ways it’s a statement worse than actually getting it wrong.
At least if you get it wrong there’s an opportunity to fix it. If you’re not allowed to make mistakes then whatever you’re creating isn’t going to be anything else but “safe”.
In some cases safe is better than sorry, especially in matters of life and death, but not when it comes to creative expression.
It comes from a well-intentioned place, but the effects aren’t good at all.
“We can’t get it wrong” sets up an unrealistic expectation that nobody’s able to live up to in a creative way. Also, the attitude becomes too solemn. There’s nothing wrong with things being serious, but solemnity is not conducive to creativity.
While it’s good to set the bar high, what we really need is to be allowed to make as many mistakes on the way there. If we can’t present a bad idea, how can we be expected to present a great one?
What we end up with are things that are good, but don’t move things forward. There’s no risk, no innovation, no creativity.
The one thing that excites me is the fact that there are people out there who can hear the statement and still go against it. They look at it like a challenge, and they give others the license to not be safe, to take risks, and to be creative despite what others say.
Sometimes they have their ideas shot down, and that stings. But they don’t stop pushing against the boundaries. That leads them to be seen as having integrity.
Having integrity doesn’t grant you the keys to the kingdom, and you’re not always going to get your way. But it does earn you respect.
I listened to a podcast recently where they were talking about the difference between beliefs and values.
They summed it up something like this:
Beliefs are things you, well, believe. Values are the beliefs you actually act on.
Basically a belief is saying: “Monsanto is a bad company”. But if you find out one of your favorite products is produced by one of their subsidiaries, you still continue to buy their products. It’s nice belief to have, but you’re not acting on it.
A value is saying “Monsanto is a bad company”, and not buying their products. Either directly or indirectly. Also, even if one of your favorite products turns out to be owned by one of their subsidiaries you stop buying it.
But this isn’t a matter of “We can’t get it wrong” either. It’s next to impossible to keep up and know everything from the get. Stay curious, learn as you go along, and course correct when new information comes your way.
Life is not a game of perfect.
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Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!