How many projects have you canned in the past 12 months because you deemed them unworthy of being called masterful, or even excellent? Your reluctance to let yourself create for the sake of creating could be holding you back. The remedy? Understand and acknowledge your place in the universe.
COURTESY OF NASA
In February 1990, the Voyager 1 space probe took the image you see above. It became known as the “Pale Blue Dot.” It is a photograph of space and Earth, as seen from 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) away. In October 1994, astronomer and author Carl Sagan said this about the Pale Blue Dot: “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”
The point is this: You’re small, but you’re important. Your ideas matter, because even though there are roughly 7 billion people walking around on that Pale Blue Dot today, if what’s in your head helps, educates or entertains just you and a few others, you’ve had a positive impact.
Bear this new understanding of your size and importance in mind as you read these three simple tips for increasing your creativity.
1. Chase progress, not a masterpiece.
In his lifetime, Pablo Picasso is believed to have produced around 50,000 artworks, including paintings, ceramics and sketches. Is every single one of those artworks a masterpiece? Of course not. Did Picasso intend for them to be? It’s unlikely.
There are definitions that say a masterpiece is anything created with outstanding skill or artistry. Forget that for a second. We’ve come to see a masterpiece as a crowning achievement, a pinnacle, and we are often unwilling to put on display anything less than our best. But you cannot ride in first class until you’ve built the railroad.
There is pride and joy to be had in chasing progress. If a masterpiece is your goal, then you have to acknowledge the journey or you’re guaranteed a slow ticket to nowhere.
2. Let yourself create and enjoy it.
The Pale Blue Dot, it’s where you and everyone else who’s ever lived and created has called home. It’s almost unfathomably small, so if you’re worried that your idea won’t be grand enough, remember that on a universal scale, you’re virtually invisible. The most beautiful paintings and mind-bending books are just things, stuck to the surface of a rock traveling through space at 67,000 mph.
If you have the chance and the will to create, then you are tremendously lucky. Let yourself create and take pleasure in it.
3. Be generous with your creativity.
Why did you can those projects you were working on? Because you were afraid people might judge you negatively? You were afraid that they’d say nasty things about your work? Well, you’re right, some of them would have. Many people are the polar opposite of you; they’ll hate your work, and even if they don’t hate it, they won’t go out of their way to rate it. Leave those people be. They share the same Blue Dot as you, but they don’t dictate what of yours is worthy and what’s not.
There are people who will love your work. Be generous with these people.