Take the Lid Off Your Creativity

Take the Lid Off!

Did you know you can train fleas to stay in a jar?

Put them in a jar and screw on the lid. They will jump and bump the lid repeatedly, because they can jump much higher than the lid. After a few days, take the lid off. They won’t jump out. They still have the ABILITY to jump out, but hitting the lid over and over trained them that there was a limit. Even with the lid removed, they still BELIEVE the limitation exists.

I believe we were all created with incredible creative potential. I also believe there are ‘lids’ placed on our creativity throughout our lives: criticisms, failures, painful experiences, teasing, comparing ourselves to others, fear… the list goes on and on. Eventually, we need to remove these lids so our creativity can jump higher.

How do we do that?

Play at Your Own Risk

Take a Risk

We live in a risk-averse culture. Need proof? Calculate how much money you spend a month on insurance. Include health, auto, home, life and disability. It adds up. Also, we buy insurance in other forms – warranties and money-back guarantees. We don’t want to take any unnecessary risks and apparently we’re willing to pay for it.

Ironically, almost anything worth accomplishing requires risk. Herodotus said “Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.” Seth Godin says “Safe really is risky.”

Where are you playing it safe? Is it holding back your creativity?

Just Do It

Nike - Just Do It

Creativity = Imagination + Action. Imagination alone won’t be enough, you have to do something with it. Be willing to prototype your ideas. Create a rough sketch, an outline, jot down some notes, put together a plan. Start making something. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you wait until the idea is perfect, you’ll never start working on it.

According to the Surgeon General, perfectionism is the leading cause of procrastination.

Put Your Prints on It

Finger Print You are unique. Shouldn’t your work be as well? Shouldn’t what you do reflect who you are?

Don’t ask a generic question like, “What would a dancer do now?”

Ask, “How was I created to do this dance?”

Simply following the lines set by others will deflate your creativity.

Don’t let your roles define who you are, let who you are define your roles.

Look Up

Look Up!

This has a double-meaning.

First, look up because the lid may have already been removed. Like the fleas in the jar, you might just be limiting yourself – afraid of hitting your head on a lid that isn’t there.

Secondly, look up for inspiration. If you believe you are a created being, then look to the Creator for direction. That is the source of creativity which we synthesize into our daily lives. Like sunlight on leaves giving energy to the tree.

I hope this helps you to jump higher… right out of the jar!

SnapThoughts 1/18/08

This one is just for fun. While shopping at Kohl’s recently, I turned around and my son was gone. I called for him, but he didn’t answer. I stepped out to an aisle and started to walk to another area when I passed a group of mannequins. I stopped, turned and inspected the display a little closer to discover where he had gone. Mannequin
Smart alec.

Wrapping ParadoxThis isn’t an ad for AT&T (more bars in more places). This is Lowe’s. They were selling Christmas wrapping paper next to wrapping paper storage boxes. There’s a minor issue here.

Best Buy Employee PerceptionAbove is a recruitment poster at a Best Buy distribution center. The marketing effort may have been more effective if not for the display of actual employee photos nearby. See below.

Best Buy Employee Reality

7 Reasons No One Likes Your Ideas


You’re in a meeting and a seemingly brilliant idea enters your mind. Adrenaline starts to rush. You imagine what wonderful things might happen if your idea is executed. You can’t wait to interject.

“Wait a second. I just had an idea.”

Everybody stops and gives you their attention as you breathlessly explain the epiphany you just experienced. Maybe you rambled a little or reached a little for examples and metaphors, but the idea was brought to the table. That’s enough for you.

You finish and wait for the plaudits. The room is quiet. It takes a while for people to absorb brilliance. Someone begins to speak.

His words aren’t coated in appreciation and wonder. They’re hardened by skepticism and disinterest. Others echo his sentiment. Soon the conversation moves on and your idea has been brushed off the table onto the floor, soon to be sucked into the vacuum of time and forgotten.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. Some of us seem to live there. Your idea seemed so exciting and valid in your mind. Now it is worthless.

Why didn’t anyone else like your idea?
Here are a few reasons ideas aren’t accepted:

1. You took a leap, but didn’t build a bridge.
Our minds wander down paths and make leaps from one idea to the next very quickly. Your idea makes perfect sense to you because of the path you followed internally. If you don’t take everyone else down that path, it probably won’t make sense to them.

2. Your idea had no tether.
Your idea may be exciting, but if it isn’t tied to the purpose, budget and/or deadline… it’s floating away like a helium balloon without a string. See more on this in my post about Paper Airplanes and Kites.

3. You told a song.
Some ideas just can’t be spoken. They have to be experienced differently. You might need music or an illustration. Concepts for TV often need storyboards. Print ideas may need a layout sketch. Don’t expect people to see or hear what is in your head. Make it real to them.

4. You have no relational equity.
Maybe you’re new and need to “earn your stripes.” Perhaps they don’t like you. Do you have a track record for presenting poor ideas? This is a big and difficult hurdle to cross. Find someone with relational equity and get them to champion your idea.

5. You tossed an egg instead of a bird.
You tossed it out there too early. Given time, it would have flown. Instead, it simply splattered on the floor. Unless you have a VERY forgiving environment, a premature idea won’t survive. Be more patient.

6. Too many thorns around the rose.
Maybe it was a good idea, but when criticism arose, you got defensive. Maybe you didn’t show any flexibility when suggestions were offered. Be willing to give in to peripheral changes like colors or fonts (unless it really does kill the idea). Even consider more drastic changes. Considering them doesn’t mean you have to allow them. If they can’t touch or smell the rose without a prick, they won’t appreciate it as much.

7. You assumed you knew it all.
This is a huge mistake that happens way too often. Don’t be presumptuous. Maybe your idea has been tried before. Maybe there’s more information that would help you come up with better ideas. Perhaps your idea won’t work, but be willing to let it bring new ideas out of others. You don’t have to CREATE all the ideas, just RECOGNIZE the good ones.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are the ones I encounter most often. Hope this helps you next time you think no one likes your ideas.