Just as making an omelet requires breaking some eggs, to create something requires failure. We avoid failure at all costs. We consider failure to be final. But failing is a natural part of progress, a necessary component to the creative process.
The Culture of Creativity
Deep down, we are all creatives. We all want to make something. To be a part of something. Purpose is the vision of creation.
It takes a culture to create something. Culture is defined as what a group of humanity deems honorable and shameful. It is the lifeblood of organizations and organisms. The fuel of the soul.
In a create-something culture, we tap into the deep desire within all of us to make something useful and meaningful. It is the part of us that wants to commit to a vision. To persevere.
Commitment is the magic that drives us through failures, that sees mistakes as opportunities to grow. It is audacious and sometimes absurd, but creating something meaningful is a baffling experience.
In lieu of commitment to a vision, the culture that develops is a don’t-make-a-mistake culture. We live lives driven by fear and anxiety. We don’t want to mess up. Things have to be perfect. All has to go right.
When they don’t, we bail. Obstacles feel like definitive indictments against not only our endeavors, but our identities.
The fear of failure drives us. It becomes our lead motivator, the lifeblood flowing through us. We don’t risk because we are afraid of failing. We don’t grow because we are afraid of being exposed as lacking.
The great obstacle of the creative process is fear. And fear is pervasive in the cultures of our communities (and within the internal culture of our heart, mind, and soul).
First (and Second) Things
To begin the creative process, we have to commit to establishing a culture. We have to decide that making something meaningful – a healthy relationship, a successful product, a thriving group or organization – is more honorable than failing is shameful. One has to precede the other. One has to define the culture around our creative process so that when the inevitable conflict arises, there is a standard for determining the winner.
The best (perhaps only) way to do this is to have a There worth pursuing. Nothing motivates us like a vision we believe in. Nothing causes greater audacity than hope. And there is nothing that chases away fear like belief.
As we set out on our creative journeys, we need the humility to fail forward. To make mistakes boldly. And to have a perspective that allows us to move forward and discover the deeper truths of our desired creations. To be motivated by their call. To face down fear and redefine the fear itself as shameful rather than honorable, turning its power on its heels.
Second, it doubles the brain space allotted to it. Our right brains are conceptual and imaginative. Just thinking goals keeps them in this hemisphere. Writing it down is a left-brained practice. The left brain is the practical, logical part of the brain. By writing it down, we literally activate another half of our brain.
Don’t Be Afraid
Fear is a very real adversary when it comes to everything in life, let alone goal setting. We do not want to make a mistake or look stupid. We are allergic to failure, deeply concerned it might define us.
Failure is an opportunity and a great teacher. We live in a fear-based culture, but you have to decide how much to submit to it.
The other option is a ‘create something’ culture. If you want to create, you have to see rejection and failure as a refining fire, the crucible which tests and molds your vision into reality.
Try it. Do it. Stop waiting around for a short cut to show up and ring your doorbell. Get to work. Set a goal. Live your vision. It won’t happen any other way.