What does success look like to you? What does failure look like to you? These are important questions, because both determine the degree to which we are going to take the many ideas we have and decide when and how we are going to try and make those ideas become real things.
I used to think success was receiving attention and praise for my work. I used to think failure was not receiving attention and praise for my work. Now I think taking my best ideas and making them into real things is success. Now I think not taking my best ideas and making them into real things is failure.
What would your creativity look like if you had this perspective on success and failure? Books like Making Ideas Happen, The Dip, and Get It Done, all make the illuminating point that two projects finished are far better than a hundred projects only thought about. Or, metaphorically speaking, one light bulb switched on is better than 100 light bulbs switched off.
I know we live in a world likes to idealize the idea people and look down on the doers, but I think that we need to begin having an equal appreciation of both kinds of people and make sure that we're not siding with one or the other approach to creativity in our own work. I talk to so many creatives these days that are hamstrung in the idea phases of their work and the can't finish one project, let alone many projects. And I always wonder what things would look like if they just started on one idea and saw it through to the end.
Don't get me wrong. I love ideas. LOVE them. But I've learned that what distinguishes the successful from the not so successful creatives is motion. Constant, focused, biased towards action, creative motion; an understanding and resolve that we need to stop thinking about what other people will think, and thinking more about what we need to do to focus on and finish the work that matters.
Now that I've learned this is an important truth I often lament how much more work I could've completed in my early 20s. But hey, at least I realized this truth in my late 20s so I can start getting more work done.
And that's why I'm able to produce a blog every single day. I simply set aside 15 minutes each day where I have to share one thought that is going through my mind. It really isn't rocket science, though I used to think it was. You simple make a decision to do the work, and sooner or later, you find constant creative motion.