The Power of Deadline

Day 318 Week 47 Q4  Monday, November 14, 2022

As creative outliers, we all have, by definition, very many options. That is what imagination yields. Yes, some of the time we are so good at creating options that this can become our main activity. And it can provide a coping mechanism and an escape. After all, we are creating, right? And more so than most? And with such ease? But there is a peril here in that ease of creating; I know this well as an involuntary improvising innovator. By some chance, are you better at starting projects than completing them? Just a guess. I know that I am. One of the reasons to work for a large company, in addition to a bigger paycheck than you may be able to generate for yourself, is there can be an army of finishers who are ready to take the project from you and get it done. You sometimes do not want to let go of it, but products, projects, prototypes, programs and processes all need to get out of your head and into the world where they can be embraced, utilized and, yes, adopted. This is the largest difference between a creative outlier and an innovator.

They both have insight, and they are both good at starting, but innovators actually apply their insights well enough and long enough for others to be able to use them, and this, by the way, is the path toward being compensated. It is hard to get compensated for ideas unless maybe you are a fellow in a think tank. Assuming that perhaps monetization might be of interest to you, it is time to move from being a creative outlier to an innovator. People need to see tangible outcomes. Otherwise, they can not use them.

And it is easy to tell yourself that this next idea is even better than the past (unfinished) one, and in fact, it might be but until it gets out of your head and into a feedback loop with reality, you are not going to be a sustainable creative professional. The completed project that is only half as good as what is in your imagination is still worth twice as much. 

So it is with a heavy heart that I find myself having to curtail some of my explorations, investigations and imaginations and retreat to some things I already know I can do well. You do realize that people would rather pay you for what you know how to do not for what you do not know how to do, right? Even a learning curve addict like myself eventually has to say perhaps the learning needs to consume the minority, not the majority, of my time, effort and day. This does not mean there are not sufficient degrees of freedom to still be extremely creative in doing what you know how to do. Of course, your imagination will always be further ahead than your reality; this is why creators lead the world forward, not politicians or administrators.

Much as some activities give me more pleasure than the ones I am really better at, I have to haul things in to be more manageable occasionally. I know you do not like that word. Management sometimes seems like the enemy, and you and I may not like it or even want to it even if we know how, but guess what without some self or external management, nothing is going to get done, which is why creative outliers generally have more impact when they are working as part of a larger team that supplements and complements their capabilities.

Even if you want to do it all yourself, which is your privilege and prerogative, sometimes you need to take off your Creator hat and put on your Management hat. Hey, it does not have to hurt or be unpleasant; you just have to design and implement a hat that fits or else you can never deploy your insight.