What Have You Not Created Yet?
Most of us have always wanted to make something, but for any number of reasons haven’t. What is that something for you? Writing a book? Learning photography? Building a house? Launching a business? There must be something you want to make.
This book “Create or Hate” exists for only one reason. Dan believes that the world will be a better place if you create what you want to create. He also believes you will be happier, more fulfilled, and maybe even more successful if you create something. As he put it:
The only thing I do know about successful people is that they create things. Steve Jobs made computers. Henry Ford made cars. Walt Disney made cartoons. Richard Branson made records. Elon Musk makes rockets. Oprah makes TV shows. J.K. Rowling makes books. Bill Gates makes software. The list goes on, and on, and on.
I can’t tell you how to be successful. But I can tell you that if you don’t make anything, you won’t be successful. Successful people make things.
Productivity = Creativity
When we finally make something, we tend to turn to the people around us to decide whether it’s good or not. The idea that the few people who surround you at this tiny moment in human history get to decide whether or not you are creative is a little bit crazy.
Don’t write yourself off just because your creations aren’t immediately successful, or aren’t considered great by the people who surround you. The bottom line is this: If you are creating things, then you are creative. If you aren’t creating things, something is stopping you.
The Birthplace of Hate
All people are born creators. It’s been that way since the dawn of human civilization. It’s been that way for you since you were a kid, gleefully discovering the world and learning by trial and error that you can impact it in a magical way.
But there is also a force called Hate, which will work against your creativity. Hate stops you from making things. Hate wasn’t there at the start. It’s been given power over the years and is now equipped with an arsenal of weapons designed to stop your creative self from making things.
Haters don’t create anything, and instead get caught up in a never-ending cycle of Hate feeding Hate and criticism triumphing over creation.
Up the Stakes, Bring the Hate
About to hit publish on a blog post? The stakes are a bit higher. People might see it! What if it sucks? Hate is taking notice. About to launch a book? Hate wants in. You aren’t going on that journey alone. About to speak in front of 1,000 people? Hate is not going to let that happen. Hate is jumping in here, and working its hardest to stop you from ever speaking again.
The higher the stakes, the higher the reward, the more Hate wants control. When you notice Hate, you should acknowledge it. But feed your creative side so much so that it starves Hate to death.
The Worst Kind of Hate
People can be very good at making up reasons. Not all reasons are invalid, but we have to beware of Hate breeding excuses.
“It seems overwhelming to write enough to make up an actual book, and it’s an expensive exercise, especially when you have to get editors and designers involved.” So Mary didn’t write the book.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting to do well enough in business, so I’ve avoided dividing my attention too much.” So James didn’t launch a training course.
Countless smart, educated, friendly, and ambitious people routinely allow the voice in their head to talk to them in this way. They let the Hate creep in, and give it 24/7 access to the command center that dictates their behaviour. Hate talks to them like they’d never talk to another person.
Every self-help book ever written says this, and believe it or not, what you tell yourself is what you become.
The first step in conquering Hate is to accept its presence and recognize it every time it rears its hideous head. That said, hate is hard to spot, because it doesn’t necessarily make you an angry, hateful person. It’s action is more insidious, as it attacks your desire to make things, which is what you need to do to survive.
So how do you spot Hate? Excuses are Hate’s specialty. Where there are excuses for failing to create, there’s Hate. Listen for that little voice in your head, telling you — in quite reasonable and measured tones — why you can’t do something. The excuses that Hate comes up with often seem perfectly legitimate, which is why its influence can be hard to spot.
Let’s look at some of the excuses Hate uses to stop you from making things.
Excuse #1 Not enough time
The only truth about not having enough time in the day is that we all have the same amount of time. Anything else is a story concocted by Hate in an effort to prevent you from creating.
Excuse #2 Fear of failure
If you aren’t regularly failing, you aren’t seeking a new destination. You are following a predictable path that doesn’t lead to anything new and you are learning nothing. In the words of Elon Musk, “If things are not failing you are not innovating enough.”
Failure = Course Correction. As simple as that.
Excuse #3 You suck
Steve Jobs said, “…everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.” Comparison is a major creativity killer. If you compare and think you suck, you’ll get depressed and give up.
Excuse #4 It’s too hard
The biggest reason for failure is not starting. We procrastinate on big projects because we can only see the hard parts, so we don’t even start.
Excuse #5 It’s probably been done
Hate convinces them that someone else has probably done it before. Yet the biggest challenge in business isn’t having the best idea, it’s commanding the most attention. If you can get more attention for your idea than your competitors, you will win.
Put another way, French author André Gide once said, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
Doing things that have already been done might just be a smart way to go. If it’s been done, then it means the idea is probably sound. You can then focus on the more important component of drawing attention to the idea.
Excuse #6 Permission seeking
Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep. It doesn’t make sense to post your top three logo designs to Facebook and decide on the top one based on the feedback of people who know nothing about design. It doesn’t make sense to ask an influencer what to do in your business, when they know nothing about your business.
How To Be Creative
Now let’s look at some ways to kick-start Love and start creating.
Action #1 Follow Your Flow
The things you’re passionate about excite you so much they give you chills. But remember that success isn’t built on chills. It’s built on constantly making things. If there’s something you can do that has you making things without you even noticing the work, then it’s a good start anyway.
Action #2 Create More Than You Consume
Most people just consume things. They watch TV, read books and blog posts, complete training, and refine their craft. They spend so much time consuming that they have no time left for creating.
Look at how much you are consuming versus what you are creating, and try to match them up. Remember, starting is the hardest part. Once you begin creating, you will find it much easier to create more.
Action #3 Create So Much
Making stuff is entirely up to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hit. It only matters that you made it
Steven Pressfield wrote for 17 years before getting his first book deal. If it’s good enough for one of the most prolific writers of our generation, it’s good enough for you.
Action #4 Break It Down
If the job is easier, you are more likely to do it. On larger projects, people visualize the most difficult parts of the project and Hate creeps in to scare them away.
Make your creative projects simpler, and you’ll be more likely to start. If you can’t reduce the scope of the project, you can break it down into smaller chunks.
Action #5 Relax
Most of our creative effort happens when we’re not working. Relaxation is the key to unleashing the power of creativity.
It’s impossible to control your emotions when you are stressed. Reduce the pressure on yourself, reduce stress, and learn to relax. Meditate daily if you want, go on a holiday, surf, go for a walk, or take a shower. Do whatever you need to do to relax, and your creative juices will flow.
Action #6 Find Diversity
Don’t just surround yourself with the same people from the same cliquey groups. If you are an entrepreneur, study design and architecture. If you are a writer, study film or art. The point isn’t acquiring new skills, the point is fueling your creativity by immersing yourself in other forms of creativity.
Action #7 Change Scenery
There’s something about a change of scenery that puts you in the mood to create. For Dan, being on a plane is the right combination of stimuli. There’s no internet and therefore no distraction. Of course, there are less extreme ways to change scenery, so try a few options and see what works for you.
Action #8 Build Your Toolkit
Keep ready access to a toolkit that helps you create. Whether it’s notepads and pens, whiteboards or butcher’s paper, analog or digital tools, use what works for you.
Action #9 Create with Others
There’s nothing like the support of others to help drive your creative output.
It’s an environment where everyone is supporting each other, and it drives them to create more.
Perhaps even more valuable is the additional power you give to your creative side when you help fuel creativity in others.
Create with others, help others, and creativity will flourish.