Innovation. Draw followers, drop doubters.

September 22, 2011

Gear up for a good post.

There are tons of people out there who would understand you if you were to put yourself out there. They would empathize with your fears and resonate with your vision. They would get it. They wouldn’t just respect or admire you, they would love you. Even if you’re not the most popular or profitable.

There is nothing universally liked. Not even you, and not even close. But the other 50, 90 or 99 percent isn’t important when you hit your stride and a small but significant group of people come forward to admit that they don’t think you have failed or are worthless. They think you’ve given them a gift. So why worry about that other percentage?

There’s a difference between being challenged and being opposed. People thinking you stink is opposition, but the ambiguous, maybe well-meaning doubts that eat away at you are challenge. If your parents, significant other, best friend, role model or favorite electronic magazine don’t understand what your fears and dreams are steering you toward, then they don’t understand. You can ignore them. You don’t have to hate them, but this mission of yours isn’t what they’re here for. They don’t have to get it every time and probably won’t. It doesn’t matter how good their intentions are. My cousin once told me that people never know what to say to innovators, they just pump them full of fear. It’s true. A lot of people don’t know what to say. There is no magic password to warp you from volition to achievement. But if they get it, their presence and support might help you anyway.

Also, about innovation.

to introduce something new; make changes in anything established. Thank you dictionary.com. I’ve seen people hang themselves up on false notions of what innovation is. “I’m not creative.” “All I do is combine stuff that already exists.” Look at that second part of the definition. Anything established. Innovation is not godhood. You don’t have to tell an unheard-of story (there are no new plots, I’ve heard) or invent a machine comprising only never-before-made components. If you are building on an idea, if you want to shake up the status quo, if you are passionate enough to push into the world with effort like a chick hatching from an egg, you are an innovator.

You have insight. You have fears. You have allies who want to learn your name.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

micalito Mo October 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I still doubt that any of the stuff I create would see a market, let alone have an impact on it. But I had many experiences in music, arts, photography, and design, where the seeming timeless, the OBVIOUS, would come out, and not even my doubts beforehand were able to change that. My mind would tell me that, because it is so obvious, so simple, so “flawless”, it must have been done before, many times over. And, although I made it, I could swear that I must have seen it before somewhere else. That leads to the idea that it would not be worth showing or telling, as it surely must have been done before, and my creation must be a boring knock-off. That does not keep me from creating, but it keeps me from being excited about my creations, from being proud of it, and of myself. Keeping myself from acknowledging myself, keeps the acknowledgment of others from me. Simple trick, but it works. Learning to talk about myself, and to be proud of myself seems to be a long, hard and steep climb for me. Although I still don’t think I deserve acknowledgment and success, I try to show up for my gifts. Life, I learned, is not a beauty contest, so it does not matter if I manage as good as the people I admire. Life is also not a race, so it does not matter when I get there. I think that it does not even matter if I ever get there, as long as I try. So I keep on trying. Thank you, FEAR.LESS!

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Matt October 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

i often feel precisely what you are feeling. i don’t know if what you create is widely marketable – i’ll let you pick up a seth godin book or something and decide for yourself – but i do know that ALL creative work is guaranteed one market: the self. all the stuff we do and make is part of marketing ourselves to ourselves, and what we think our story is. if we feel like we’re retreading old ground, it’s hard to feel successful or worthwhile. to beat it takes a lot of reflection on what art means. a writing professor of mine told me there are no new plots, but for some reason people still write stories – because a person’s individual magic can make old techniques seem fresh.

you have to ask yourself, how much does it truly matter if what i create is bad this time? how much more valuable is creating anything than creating nothing? when i thought about these for a while (and looked for various external sources of guidance), i decided that continuing to do stuff, even if it sucked, might be a lucrative path toward developing the practice and acumen to producing things that would pass my own ridiculous standards.

the pressure of the outside world makes it seem like you have to think of your creative work as either irredeemable shit or shakespeare meets hemingway, and that’s a false dichotomy. your idle, audience-less but SINCERE creative work is stepping stones on a journey. your comment implies that you’ve already picked up on that, so you’re well on your way. just don’t give up, and try to show a trusted friend something you did every now and then.

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Deb October 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Your articles are always timely and encouraging & this one is perfect for me today. Thank you!

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Matt October 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm

glad i could help. thank you!

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