Creativity has long been romanticized as a magical or divine process. One where genius suddenly strikes and a song is born from nothing. The Greeks believed that creativity wasn’t even human, but was whispered in ears by muses, living embodiments of creativity. Alternatively, it’s boring to imagine the trial and error or hours of writer’s block that goes into most creative works. There’s no glamour, no mystery–just hard labor.
The romanticized perception of creativity does a great disservice to all of us who want to create. It can be discouraging when you struggle to complete that song, essay, or business plan. Even more so when you compare yourself to the genius of Mozart, Poe, or Jobs. However, if you delve deeper, you’ll see that all these innovative producers, while highly talented, put enormous amounts of time and effort into their creative endeavors. They were not magical, they were passionate and industrious.
Mozart is a popular example of hard work. That’s because he wrote his compositions like everyone else: in front of a piano while painstakingly studying music theory, continuously revising, and with frequent bouts of writer’s block. He wrote hundreds of compositions this way, making him a prolific composer that properly utilized his passion and drive. But even after all of that, only a tiny fraction of his works became popular. There are hundreds of Mozart’s compositions that no one has ever heard and only twenty or so songs popular enough to leap the barriers of time. One could argue that he failed hundreds of times with a success rate of something like 5%.
Steve Jobs failed publicly numerous times with products like the Rokr iTunes phone (held 100 songs), Apple Lisa ($10,000 desktop computer in 1983), and NexT (Jobs’ computer startup after he got fired from Apple). Those are all failures when he had huge amounts of money and some of the smartest people in the world at his disposal, but no one remembers Jobs’ flops. Instead, society venerates and idolizes him for his successes, like the iPhone, and completely ignores everything else.
So, if you think that you’re “not creative enough” to do anything from business to playing the xylophone, you’re wrong. If you tried to start a hundred of businesses, just like Mozart wrote hundreds of compositions, I’m quite confident at least one of them would be stick. It’s less about some ethereal force of the universe and more about passion and tenacity. Creativity is not for a special group of visionaries. It’s for every person inspired to build, design, develop, and create.
Don’t tell yourself that you’re not creative or smart enough to ___________. Many of the most famous “geniuses” failed continuously. Their successes were born from tenacity and hard work.
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