Creator Checks and Balances

Day 117 Week 17 Q2 Friday, April 26, 2024

Let’s start with the assumption that you’re a creative outlier, a stance I take for most of these columns. Creative outliers tend to be more open to experimentation than others. However, with experimentation comes a higher risk of failure.

This risk is inherent in creativity because curiosity drives exploration, and sometimes exploration leads to setbacks. This dilemma is often overlooked by those who admire innovation from a distance. From afar, innovation seems less daunting than it truly is. It’s harder to foresee potential failure modes or to find solutions when you’re not intimately involved.

Many CEOs espouse the importance of innovation for their organizations, yet few embody true innovation themselves. If you’re a creative individual, why would you want to be a CEO, where much of the work revolves around management rather than creation?

Living a creatively fulfilling life requires checks and balances to prevent reckless behavior that could derail your life. How do you balance the desire for exploration and risk-taking with the need for stability and responsibility?

One effective check and balance is to not live in isolation. When left alone, especially in a state of creative flow, it’s easy to lose track of time, neglect basic needs like eating, and overlook practical responsibilities. Having a relationship with someone who can notice when you’re straying too far from reality can be invaluable. They might warn you, and though you might choose to ignore their advice, at least your line of thought has been interrupted, giving you the opportunity to reconsider.

However, being tied down by numerous relationships, such as those of a parent or an employee, can limit your creative freedom. In such cases, checks and balances might feel overly restrictive unless you devise a system that allows for both creativity and responsibility, ideally tailored to your own needs.

Establishing a structured creative period at the same time each day can help minimize risk. Many people find that journaling in the morning helps them get calibrated for the day ahead. But what if you took it a step further and committed to posting a daily blog? This wouldn’t replace your morning journaling; it would complement it by refining your ideas to withstand scrutiny from others, not just yourself. 

What if you made a small drawing or painting every morning? Or improvised a short musical ditty? Can you take these creative works and further of all of them? Can you designate a time during the day specifically to do so? And then, what are the checks and balances?

If you habituate these behaviors and then apply some critical evaluation to the results, then when you do not engage in these actions, you feel something is amiss. This is an example of creating your own checks and balances to support your own creative process.

Offered the best checks and balances were designed by you to achieve a particular result.