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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Motivated Boost From A Creative Author


Ever since I was a purpose-searching teenager growing up in Brooklyn, I’ve been a sucker for motivational books.  They all say the same things – sometimes even quote or reference the same people – but somehow, each one is consumed a little differently.  Each one serves as a reminder to think beyond ourselves, overcome our fears, pursue our dreams, and to see things a little differently than they are.  Even if their feel-goodness concludes with the reading of each book, they put me in a nice frame of mind.  I hadn’t read one in awhile, but one about creativity caught my eye while I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop.  

It was written by a Madison Avenue guy, Paul Arden, who spent 15 years at Saatchi & Saatchi.  It’s called “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be.”  There’s a period in the title, which is not normally done, but it seems to emphasize the title as a statement of fact.  The back copy says the book “is a concise guide to making the most of yourself – a pocket ‘bible’ for the talented and timid to make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible.”

How could anyone turn down a book with such a promise?  We all want to see what’s invisible, to turn shit into gold, so surge beyond any barriers – real or imagined.  So what stops us?  Excuses, time, money, fear, commitments and any of a thousand things.  The longer we go without pursuing our passion or living up to our creative capacity, the closer we are to feeling like an abject failure.

But when breezily rummaging through his skimpy 128-page, big print, image-heavy book, you quickly find ideas and concepts to grab onto like one needs a lifeline when jumping out of a burning building.  Here are some of the quips that resonated with me:

“All creative people need something to rebel against.”

“Everybody wants to be good, but not many are prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to be great.”

“If you can’t solve a problem, it’s because you’re playing by the rules.”

“Start being wrong and suddenly anything is possible.  You’re no longer trying to be infallible.”

“Firstly you need to aim beyond what you are capable of.  You must develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end.  Try to do the things that you’re incapable of.”

“If you ask the right question, you get the right answer.”

“Theatre director Joan Littlewood said, ‘If we don’t get lost, we’ll never find a new route’”

“Failures and false starts are a precondition of success.”

“How you perceive yourself is how others will see you.”

“Don’t give a speech.  Put on a show.”

“Instead of giving people the benefit of your wit and wisdom (words), try painting them a picture.  The more strikingly visual your presentation is, the more people will remember it.  And, more importantly, they will remember you.”

“If you get stuck, draw with a different pen.”

“To be original, seek your inspiration from unexpected sources.”

“Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe.  It is also out of date.  It’s the opposite of originality.  Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems.  The old situations are probably different from the present ones, so that old solutions will have to be bent to fit new problems (and possibly fit badly).  Also the likelihood is that, if you’ve got the experience, you’ll probably use it.  This is lazy.  Experience is the opposite of being creative.”

“Give away everything you know, and more will come back to you.”

“The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves.  Eventually you’ll become stale.  If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing.  This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish.  Somehow the more you give away the more comes back to you.  Ideas are open knowledge.  Don’t claim ownership.”

“A new idea can be either unfamiliar, or silly, or both.  It can’t be judged by description.  It needs to be done (made) to exist.  It is unlikely that anyone will sanction the cost of something they don’t understand; therefore you have no choice but to do it yourself.  At whatever cost.  You may have to beg, steal and borrow to get it done.  But that’s for you to work out how you do it.  It’s exciting.  It’s difficult and it’s fun.  If it was easy anyone could do it.”

Every so often even the most creative, confident, and courageous individual needs to be reminded, if not inspired, by books like Arden’s.  Who knows, maybe you’ll even write such a book for others.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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