Everyone Can Create

Kevin Ashton - How to Fly a Horse

The encouraging part is that everyone can create, and we can show that fairly conclusively. The challenging part is that there is no magic moment of creation. Creators spend almost all their time creating, persevering despite doubt, failure, ridicule, and rejection until they succeed in making something new and useful. There are no tricks, shortcuts, or get-creative-quick schemes. The process is ordinary, even if the outcome is not.
Creating is not magic but work….
The best artists, scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and other creators are the ones who keep taking steps by finding new problems, new solutions, and then new problems again. The root is innovation is exactly the same as it was when our species was born: looking at something and thinking, “I can make this better….”
The creativity myth confuses having ideas with the actual work of creating….
The best way to create is to work alone and evaluate solutions as they occur. The worst way to create is to work in large groups and defer criticism. Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs’s cofounder at Apple and the inventor of its first computer, offers the same advice: “Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team….
The vast majority—98 percent—of teachers say creating is so important that it should be taught daily, but when tested, they nearly always favor less creative children over more creative children.
[This] effect is not restricted to schools, and it persists into adulthood. Decision makers and authority figures in business, science, and government all say they value creation, but when tested, they do not value creators.
Why? Because people who are more creative also tend to be more playful, unconventional, and unpredictable, and all of this makes them harder to control. No matter how much we say we value creation, deep down, most of us value control more. And so we fear and favor familiarity. Rejecting is a reflex.
How a Fly a Horse
By Kevin Ashton


How to Fly a Horse is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it to anyone engaged in a creative endeavor. Yet, one important part of the creation/innovation process is not covered and that is the need for a diversity of experiences. As Steve Jobs said in a February 1996 Wired magazine interview:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

Steve Jobs expressed this same idea much earlier in a June 1982 Academy of Achievement speech:

If you’re gonna make connections which are innovative … you have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does or else you’re going to make the same connections [as everybody else], and then you won’t be innovative, and then nobody will give you an award.

In this same speech, Jobs said something else that is very profound:

In my mind growing up [I thought that] the world was just sorta something that happened… and you didn’t really try to change it. You just tried to find your place in it and have the best life that you could… and there were some pretty bright people running it. As you begin to interact with some of these people you find that they are not a lot different than you.

Again in a later interview, Jobs goes into more depth on the idea that the people running the world are not any smarter than you are:

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world.

Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources — and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal of the former.

For some reason, this is very difficult lesson for us to learn. We have, I think, a very rigid and limited definition of what an advantage is. We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser.

~ David and Goliath
Malcom Gladwell

David vs Goliath
In a review of David and Goliath, Seth Godin states:

The point [of Malcolm Gladwell’s book] is that we are ALL capable of doing great work, ALL capable of doing work that matters, ALL capable of heroism. Why then, do some succeed and others never even try?
Silicon Valley works for the very reason that a broken inner-city fails. Because of cultural expectations. People become heroes when they’re surrounded by a culture that allows them to dream it’s possible.

Go Make Something Happen ~ Seth Godin

We spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that prestige and resources and belonging to elite institutions make us better off. We don’t spend enough time thinking about the ways in which these kinds of material advantages limit our options.
~ David and Goliath
Malcom Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

You may not have the money, you may not have the Supreme Court, but that is not the defining factor…. The defining factor is never resources it’s resourcefulness…. If you have human emotion…
~ Anthony Robbins
And as we learn in a video featuring Will Smith, Anthony Robbins and Sir Ken Robinson, there is a redemptive quality to making a choice. You are not a victim of your past. A lack of resources is never the defining factor. You were born an artist [extremely creative], the trick is to remain an artist [extremely creative] as you grow up. So do something, make a choice but be prepare to be wrong.

From a video essay about creativity we learn:

All of history’s greatest figures achieved success in almost exactly the same way. But rather than celebrating this part of the creative process we ignore it.

This missing chapter in the story of success reveals the secret to doing meaningful work. But in the modern world, full of distraction, do we have what it takes to do great things?

We are ALL capable of doing great work, ALL capable of doing work that matters, ALL capable of heroism.

And as Daniel Pink tells us in Drive:

When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery— the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Dan Pink - Purpose

RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

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