Creativity vs. Passion
Thanks to Hannah du Plessis for sharing a great post on Scoop.it about the creation of Gatorade, entrepreneurial passion and creativity. Here is how the daughter of Gatorade’s inventor describes her mission:
Phoebe Cade Miles, daughter of Gatorade inventor Dr. James Robert Cade, is one such believer in the power of creativity. She watched her father work tirelessly to invent a product that, five decades after its introduction, is still used by athletes around the world.
Today, Cade Miles is working on her own entrepreneurial project, The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. The museum, scheduled to open in 2015 to commemorate Gatorade’s 50th anniversary, explores the history of the famous athletic drink, and highlights the crucial role creativity played in its invention.
“The invention of Gatorade is a perfect example of a creative collision,” Cade Miles told BusinessNewsDaily. “It took experts from two seemingly unrelated subjects, nephrology and football, to bring about the completely new category of sports beverages.”
Cade Miles’ 4 Rules of Creativity
Highly recommend every startup entrepreneur read Mashable’s interview with Miles. Miles makes 4 points about creativity:
- Creativity is a bigger predictor of success in life than intelligence.
- Creativity actually needs structure to flourish, but not so much structure that it is crushed.
- Creativity can be learned.
- Creativity happens best at the intersection of disciplines.
Creativity A Hard Row To Hoe
In elementary school I had dyslexia so bad I drew stick figures above words. These strange hieroglyphics was my ten-year old self trying to fit round pegs into round holes. Tutoring and hard work became the model to survive school.
Miles shares how much easier it is to quantify intelligence. There are tests for that. Creativity, especially in early life say before college, can seem and feel like restless rebellion. “Troublemakers” who crack wise, disrupt order and reject authority are feared and squashed.
I wasn’t squashed. Despite struggling in the classroom I was so much bigger than my classmates “squashed” didn’t happen until high school when I wasn’t bigger anymore (lol). These early years are critical. Creativity rejected enough and without some support system becomes a rootless anger, an anger that can hurt a creative person’s life, friends and family.
If sports produced social acceptance books created windows into important worlds. Reading was MISERY and JOY combined in equal measure (and so a great early life lesson lol). I read about Red Grange, football’s galloping ghost, Sherlock Holmes the intrepid detective and Charlemagne the King.
The tricky part of raising a creative kid is how much of a struggle it will feel like. Your struggle as a parent is tiny compared to dragons your creative child fights daily. The hardest advice is to suspend judgement and resist packaging your creative child in ways YOU understand.
Parents want good things for their children. The hard row your creative child is working is, with a tiny amount of support from parents, siblings and family, a powerful gift to nurture. The almost “saint-like” patience and love required describes both my parents. They believe in me always and many times they were the only ones. This is not to say THEY and I didn’t struggle. We struggled, but we didn’t give up and we loved each other even when it didn’t feel like it.
Creativity & Structure
This is a great point. Creativity needs discipline and structure. Structure is the NET that saves a creative person when they fail. I’ve failed, failed and failed. Structure taught me how to start again. Structure taught how to view the glass as half full. Structure explained how to build on what worked and toss the rest.
Creativity’s and passion’s roads FORK right here. Passion is a dog with a bone. Passion believes in dogged persistence. There are some problems no amount of dogged persistence can fix. Passion is formed in our EGO. We fight because that is who we are.
Creativity, at least our “digital creativity”, requires a hybrid. Right brain openness, vision and pattern recognition must be matched to left brain engineering, analytics and geometry. The core of Internet marketing is creative destruction.
A million things destroy what Internet marketers create. I’ve compared what we do to building sand castles on the beach. A tide’s destruction is inevitable no matter how passionate and doggedly persistent you are. Creativity removes passion’s ego and ownership.
This is NOT to say FAILURE is ever met easily or well (lol). Failure HURTS like no other thing in life, but when a creative has been coached, taught and helped to see how to pick themselves up and start again their triumph is complete (no matter what the final outcome).
Creating anything requires magical thinking. Magical thinking capable of wiping a slate clean no matter how much chalk is on the board. The amount of SELF DOUBT and recrimination and FEAR after a failure is hard to over-estimate. Without magical thinking every entrepreneur would curl into a ball, pull the covers over their heads and watch an endless loop of Breaking Bad.
Failure is a THING not a person. Repositioning failure may be the most important “magical thinking” any startup entrepreneur attempts.
Creativity Can Be Learned & Taught
YES creativity can be learned and creativity can be taught. Teaching creativity shares some concepts with learning math, programming or a new language. I’ve learned more about creativity from intimate conversations, interviews and reading than sitting in any classroom.
Doing something and the feedback loops doing something creates is important to learning creativity. Having a “creative coach and mentor” is so important. I’ve had several creative coaches and mentors including:
- The inspirational Ed Maddox at Choate.
- The artist Alton Pickens at Vassar College.
- Mary Kay O’Connor at VP marketing/Sales at NutraSweet.
- Jon Jordan Atlantic BT’s CEO.
Each “creativity coach” taught in different ways.
- Mr. Maddox injected energy, passion and new dimensions into a dead poet’s society at Choate.
- Alton Pickens would speak to not yet formed artists/students as equals sharing years of perspective in exercises and few words.
- Mary Kay O’Connor knew how to create just the right amount of structure. Much of what I know about strategic planning, Key Milestones and negotiating came from Mary Kay.
- Jon can think his way through the foggiest problems making connections to unseen patterns and ideas fast creating that V8, “Duh why didn’t I see that” moments.
Creative people are like sponges in the desert. They can stretch a single drop of water into support, ideas and a willingness to continue.
Intersection of Disciplines
Since creativity is equal parts destruction, pattern recognition, courage and exploration taking in and being open to anything and everything requires hard-won suspension of judgement. Creatives can’t narrow focus. Focus narrowing takes a creative out of the game.
Once a creative says, “Know all I need to,” they are vested. They don’t want to risk often significant investments of time, energy and money required to get HERE (wherever here is). Creativity, unlike passion, has no single destination.
Creativity is an endless journey, a marathon not a sprint. In the summer of 2010 I rode a bicycle across America. The 3,300 mile trip turned out to be harder than I imagined. Curating my HEAD was the hardest thing to do. When you are riding up a MONSTER mountain DOUBT can creep in.
Doubt is the enemy of accomplishment and creativity. Structure and discipline is what keeps doubt in check. Structure and discipline executed enough times becomes HABIT and then TRUST. Once you trust yourself, have tested that trust and passed exploration of “anything and everything” is possible, fearless and certain.