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So many quotes could go here. Just click to read a few.
Today’s post is an excerpt from my book, Entrepreneurial Creativity.
… Failure is the last cog in this machine of creativity. It’s also the one I can’t claim to be the sole person to understand is most essential in success. A quick google search for quotes on failure will result in two trillion one hundred eighty billion matches in a matter of 0.68 seconds (one can trust me, as I just did this). This makes saying anything new about something so obvious quite difficult.
Yes, “success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” just like Winston Churchill said. Henry Ford’s version, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely” is also good. We can agree with Michael Jordan who said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life ... that’s why I succeed.” Then there is Brene Brown with another iteration, “There is no innovation and creativity without failure, Period.”
Eight billion people on the planet, and it seems they all have something to say about failure as it relates to success. That’s why I can really only add that we have to stop talking about it and do it. Not doing anything isn’t failing, it’s quite literally nothing. Failing is something. Fail hard enough to have a failure quote on the first page of a Google image search on the topic, and you’ll inevitably be a success.
Anyone who sets about taking the various approaches presented in this book is bound to fail spectacularly in their objectives multiple times. This failure will lead to new discoveries, better work, and more satisfaction. It will lead to outputs they can either physically or digitally point to instead of work they spend years talking about until one day people stop asking about it and then another later day when the concept fades from the originator’s mind completely.
Plunging head first into that awful sci-fi screenplay concept, jumping into welding with no prior knowledge, starting with a beef wellington as a novice chef, these are actual (likely) failures that will lead to success if the attempts continue. We can’t do nothing and claim we’re failing into success. That just simply isn’t how it works.
Application, not apathy, shirks the struggle of art. We ultimately cannot abide being caught up in the unfairness of life, the frustration that mass-produced outputs often matter in a business setting, or our personal justifications and excuses when we are discussing creativity and how to achieve more of it … Creative dead-ends persist across people, teams, and industries, but the solutions are at everyone’s disposal.
It should come as no surprise that it was not just my own personal failures that allowed me to arrive at the model of entrepreneurial creativity. It was also driven by my interpretation of what is/was failing in the industry I am actively involved in. After more than a decade now of digital creative work shifting from “experimental” to “essential” one thing I noticed about the rapidly expanding creative industry at large: it wasn’t necessarily being run by our most creative constituents. This may appear brash, but let’s take a look at every creative person’s favorite thing: the data.
Out of 2 million arts graduates in the United States, only 10 percent, or 200,000 people, make their primary earnings as working artists by the time they are 25.* That is a fairly staggering statistic considering the number of people actually being creative with these degrees past the age of 25 is likely even fewer.
Somehow, even the people who are most naturally inclined to be creative, who were so passionate about their craft that they paid to study the technical skills required to express that creativity, are also the people most likely to find a job merely executing other people’s concepts. For some it’s even worse: they end up taking a job outside of their expertise just to pay the bills so that their passion isn’t completely destroyed. This is done with the intention of working on personal projects that unfortunately, they never get around to executing anyway.
How is it possible that we can find someone with the mental and technical ability to manipulate and create artwork in three dimensional space, and they’re the most likely candidate to be quitting a job after someone tells them to change the background color of a digital banner for the third time?
This book was not written to dissect, correct, or disrespect the creative industry, but it is worth noting that the preceding words are a backdrop - a context - to which the preceding chapters and ideas were written. In theory, creative people want to be creative and those who make decisions also want them to be creative, but the results point to a clear misalignment amongst everyone. This is not just a problem for those with a fine arts degree, it’s for everyone.
That problem can be more clearly stated: the creativity to productivity connection is rarely made or judged accurately, sequestering artistry into a rarely visited corner of the room.
The world rightfully places a high value on productivity over creativity, and creatives have not always been given adequate tools or processes to understand why this is the right hierarchy. As a result they lean further into procrastination and inaction because what they are tasked with is A) extremely difficult, B) probably does require a bit more time than the structures in place, and C) typically assigned by someone unfamiliar with what it takes.
Simultaneously, those with titles that presumably exclude creativity from the job description do not see themselves as creatives and therefore do not seek out how tapping into their own source of it might help them in their own passions and pursuits, as well as those of their teams. For everyone, this is an outward manifestation of the compartmentalization we’ve discussed, and it is driven by two distinct, but important factors:
1. Creatives in the traditional sense are trained to mindlessly execute more than they are to think about the broader context in which their skillset can be applied.
2. Creativity is viewed through too narrow a lens by all, including those with creative proclivity.
Thus, businesses weed out the well studied creative people with a technical skillset by the time they are 25. Creatives get mad at businesses for doing this, and businesses get mad at creatives not understanding the job description …
The absolutely fantastic news upon understanding this, is that we are then barely scratching the surface of elevating individual and professional artistry. Hence, this book. By applying the ideas of entrepreneurial creativity I believe we will achieve practical and prolific outputs for all - individuals, entities, businesses, and beyond. These ideas are the connecting tissue between those of us at odds with others or ourselves, stirring the creativity in all of us to action over inaction. Once we understand that we all want to create, and are supplied with the tools to do so, it makes it easier to get on the same page.
Many hands, and many failures, will then make light work.
Let’s fail today.
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