The Antithesis of Creativity

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Immersed in a whirlpool of ideas, some good, some worth dropping off a cliff to the jagged rocks below, still others leading to publication or other successes, creativity abounds in all of us. It’s how we use that energy, how we channel it into our passions that defines us as artists or strategists or inventors or a number of other creative-based professions. When we are fearless, we are at our best.

It’s that moment when we let apprehension stand in our way; when we let self-doubt consume our inspirations; when we allow aversion to risk-taking to override our passions. That moment when the reaper positions his queen with that bony hand to proclaim checkmate. Fear is the consummate eternal when we grant it the opportunity.

Fear comes in many valid forms: an explosion at a chemical factory, an out-of-control eighteen-wheeler on a busy highway, an angry dictatorial boss, the wrong end of a gun. All physical, all legitimate. Even a zombie invasion should one occur. It’s the fear in our heads that restrains us, prevents us from taking ownership of our ideas, of executing an idea as the lingering possibility of retribution or disappointment hangs six inches in front of our noses. That is the antithesis of creativity, which has claimed so many unwritten stories and unperformed songs. And it lives in our collective subconscious, both culturally and individually.

Those lucky fortunate few who have made a killing following their creativity passions, those people we are fans of and consume everything they produce. We love them, we want to emulate them and collect everything they’ve ever touched. We hang on their every last words. We wonder: How did they do it? Right place at the right time? Perhaps. More than likely, they took control of fear. They did not listen to the naysayers – themselves the products of internalized fear – they channeled that energy into their passions, they took risks knowing that at any moment we may reject them. Through every mountain and canyon, they persevered.

Bottom line: we are products of ourselves, we are our own creators. We define what we put out there, assuming we take the first step allowing our viscera to be exposed. The sad reality is, most of us are willing to give in without a fight. Don’t do that.

Push forward. Follow your passion. Create.

Business of Fear

Hook at Tower of TerrorWhether in the business world or in writing fiction, fear of the unknown is pervasive. Fear can be applied to the context of a story – as in “don’t enter that room, the killer is hiding in there!” – or it can be the fear or taking risk, as I recently wrote about in the blog post, “Going There.” Today, I have decided to switch away from the subject of writing; rather, my focus is on business driven by fear.

Fear is counter-productive in business; it prevents an organization from finding new solutions. It hinders advancement, and it creates a culture of skepticism and cynicism when it becomes widespread. In my career of corporate communication, I have often encountered this debilitating emotion and its power to halt productivity and impede creativity. For example, in the case of bringing social media into a business, a common response has been, “if we cannot control it, we cannot be a part of it.” Never mind the fact that the discussion of the business by its customers and haters will occur with or without the company’s involvement. The epitome of having no control is when the company’s voice is absent from the conversation.

I have witnessed fear of changing a business model to compete with a larger competitor sink a small business. “It’s not who we are,” I would hear, or, “Our regulars will keep shopping here.” That proved not to be the case. A small risk can go a long way, exemplified by those few small businesses that survived the onslaught of the big box store chains when they moved into my old town. As for the business I was acquainted with, it died a slow and painful death as it resisted trying new techniques in the name of fear. It missed an opportunity to remain competitive by defining a niche as the other surviving shops did.

It’s an unfortunate reality – so many great opportunities in collaboration and innovation are missed by businesses that abide by the fear of the unknown. Optimism, research, and strategic planning will combat this, however. It takes dedication and perseverance to not back down from what you believe is the right path forward. It takes leadership. Fear can be beat, and it requires hard work. In the grand scheme, the fearless will not only thrive, they will win.

When you have an idea to improve something – your business, you creative endeavor, or your life – don’t let fear be a deciding factor. Do it!