Ego is the death of all creativity.
If your ego is stroked, you become too sure of your work and abilities, even if there are glaring technical faults or lack of effort. On the other hand, if you have no ego at all, you can never allow yourself to be good at something you really want to do. You are blocked by your unfounded mediocrity, and if you want to make or learn something, you can’t even start at the initial point of believing you can make or learn it.
All highly successful people – businessmen, innovators, athletes, politicians, entertainers – either by themselves, or by recorders of their excellence for the public, i.e. journalists and academics, end up creating myths to their success. Usually, there is an “against all odds” type of story, even if the usual “odds” – modest origins, personal barriers like incurable conditions or diseases etc. – are not part of the system. Yes, every successful person has one, if not several reasons for being successful. Many have well-stroked egos, while others are incredulous or dismissive of the perks of success. What both parties have in common is a willingness to get the work done, despite the state of ego.
In our age of Reality and YouTube Personality stars, you may be sceptical of what work these highly successful people do, who are often without any discernible talent, except egotism. And that would be the case if they were one-hit wonders, unable to capitalise on their initial success. But, even the building of a brand of a Reality Personality requires a lot of effort (and rarely, if ever, by the personality alone) which even we humble bloggers can understand with our own modest endeavours.
The idea is, you have to constantly put your work out there. Make it good, make it your own and be desperate enough to talk about it wherever it is appropriate. Because, you have to believe the work needs to be seen, to be shared in the old-timey physical way. That is what will give you the impetus to be creative in the first place. To know that what you make with your best efforts has a chance to be seen, and deserves to be seen. That when you learn a new skill, you will apply it to something you never thought you’d be able to do before.
There have been many studies that show creativity to be inversely proportional to age i.e., the younger you are, the more creative you are and vice-versa. I, personally, do not believe this has anything to do with added responsibilities or other “grown-up” stuff. Because, creativity is completely an attitude problem. Everything you do, every decision you make from the tiniest and trivial to the most important, has a place for creativity to flourish. But, why is it important? I don’t know. If you are a baker and the same recipe has worked for your cakes for the last 50 years, it would be ridiculous to want to change it. If you decide to make modifications to it by adding goji berries, even while safely retaining your classic on the menu, then why not do it? It may not be a hit, but it would be something new and exciting for you, and it would make your life fun for that day. No ego involved.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Life is a series of decisions you will or will not have the power to make. Either way, it doesn’t make it easier. But, even if things seem out of hands or too safe to mess with, you can try and have more agency. You can do something, either completely new or something you want to do in a new way, because it will make you feel slightly more alive, engaged and in control. It will help you find a new appreciation for what life has to offer and an appreciation of yourself, despite how unconscious and momentary that feeling may be. It wouldn’t be about whether you are not good enough to do something or too good to ever do it wrong. Instead of trying to define whether you are a thoroughly good parent, partner, student or professional, at this moment or generally, being more creative would help you appreciate that moment where you fulfil any of these roles in a risky but, potentially more satisfying than usual way. Now, tell me if anything is wrong with that.
In what ways do you try to be more creative?