6 Steps to Becoming the Smartest Creative in the Room

6 Steps to Becoming the Smartest Creative in the Room
Jake McNeill
July 15, 2021
5 min read
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Kill the romanticism

We put famous artists and creatives on pedestals. We call them geniuses.

History romanticises creatives and glorifies the truth so much that we believe that:

 A) These artists and creators were special 

 B) That we are not

Talent is overrated. I say this a lot. But that’s because people’s limiting beliefs about talent — and their perceived lack thereof —stop them from trying.

They’re scared of looking silly. 

You need some talent.

But I have found that the prodigiously talented often hold themselves back. They rely too much on their talent. 

But it’s persistence, drive, and consistency that really matter.

Doesn’t matter how talented you are if you don’t finish or quit. 

Thomas Edison famously found 10,000 ways that the lightbulb didn’t work. That’s talent + persistence. 

Without persistence, talent can not — and does not —shine. 

The harder you try, the more talented you become. 

This is my favourite quote about talent. David Bowie is universally considered to be a genius.

Yet, he was just as shit as the rest of us in the beginning. This is an important quote for anyone that doesn’t believe they are good enough to start.

David Bowie’s first BBC review.

“Amateur sounding vocalist who sings wrong notes and out of tune…The singer is a cockney type but is devoid of personality.”

Kill your fear

Famous creatives are less genius and more fearless. Half the challenge of creativity is the willingness to have shitty ideas.

Our inner critics form when we’re around 6 or 7. 

Heard of the NASA creativity test? They followed 1,600 kids from age  5 to 15. They tested them every 5 years.

These were the results:

credit: 99designs

Fear hamstrings creativity. 

When we’re kids our imagination runs riot. We have no self-imposed limitations and our creativity explodes as a result. 

As we become adults, our fear of looking stupid and failure has almost entirely destroyed our creative spirit. 

You are scared of what we think. So you keep your amazing ideas to yourself. 

That’s quite tragic when you think about it, right?

You have to wonder how many life-changing things have never been invented because of fear?

Or how many artistic masterpieces have never been written, or painted, or sung because the creator was scared of what others would think. 

Be more emphatic

Empathy is the cornerstone of creating better ideas. The best way to be naturally empathetic is to solve your own problems.

This gives you unique insights into the associated pain points and how to solve them. 

If the ideation process is not related to a problem you have experienced yourself, then you have to empathise with the consumer.

What are journalists looking for? Clickable stories that stick.

What are new businesses looking for? How to get more clients.

You get the picture. See the world through other eyes of the consumer. 

Join more dots

Creativity is about joining different ideas together to create something new.

Chefs are a great metaphor for creativity. They combine different ingredients to create new taste sensations.

We are either chefs or cooks. I have written about this before. 

Chefs are creators who innovate are dedicated to their craft. Cooks follow the Chef’s recipes. 

Increasing your creativity comes to opening your mind to combining two different concepts to create something new. 

Electric scooters are all the rage. They just took scooters which were super popular with kids and added a motor and marketed them to bigger kids and adults. 

Bernard Sadow invented the rolling suitcase in 1970. He simply added wheels to a suitcase and solved a pain point that everybody has felt. 

Someone put a clock and an alarm together and created an alarm clock.

Inversion thinking

Inversion thinking is another great way to increase your creative thinking by doing the opposite and then inverting it.

If you’re stuck, come up with bad ideas. 

How would you start a business that was guaranteed to fail? 

Well, you wouldn’t focus on content, or marketing, etc. 

Write down all the things that will make you fail and then do the opposite. 

Just do it

More than anything, creativity is about executing. It doesn’t matter how creative your thinking is if you never do anything about it.

And this is where most people fail.

They fail because they are afraid of failing. Pretty daft when it’s laid out like that, right?

Failing to execute your idea is failing without trying. It’s a failure default setting.

While others can’t see you fail. 

You know you’re failing and you beat yourself up about it, don’t you?

We all do. Every single one of us. Until we decide enough is enough and just get started.

This is why you have to execute your ideas. Otherwise, your inner narrative becomes that of someone who never tries.

And someone that never tries will never succeed.

And you will take that ‘what if?” with you to your grave. 

A bit about me

I’m an ex- multi-platinum artist manager. I created strategies and built audiences for artists who sold millions. I’ve challenged myself to write 50 articles in 50 working days. 45 down, 5 to go.

You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn

Interested in 1:1 Creative Business/ Personal Branding Strategy?

I help creators and solopreneurs become famous in their niches. I specialise in:

  • Critical thinking and mental models for clarity and focus
  • Building simple repeatable processes to achieve long term goals
  • Starting new creative businesses
  • Standing out in saturated markets
  • Overcoming creative blocks that are holding you back
  • Turning audiences into super fans

I do discovery calls to see if we’re a good fit.

Cost? $0.00 Commitment? Zero. Time? 30 minutes

More info? Go here

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