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PSA: Creativity Isn’t About Treating Your Ideas Like Precious Children

Don’t act like it’s a crime when your ideas get shot down. After all, creativity doesn’t end when one idea dies.

PSA: Creativity Isn’t About Treating Your Ideas Like Precious Children

In an advertisement for the 2012 Miami ADDY Awards, director Owen Trevor of Passion Pictures depicts ideas as children that are gruesomely “shot down” by executives. It should be a funny, tongue-in-cheek pun, but instead the spot comes off as portraying the idea-makers themselves as remarkably self-righteous, the laugh itself buried somewhere under a layer of silent, seething anger.

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Copyranter weighs in, noting that “Many older creative loudmouths call their ideas their ‘children,’ which is just pathetic.” I’ll take things a step further and just spell it out: I don’t care how brilliant or creative you are, ideas are not children. And they never will be.

Children have been in the making for 6 billion years, each cell within their body honed through the relentless and often brutal cost of natural selection. Your idea arose just last week, fueled by a spontaneous caffeine boost from Starbucks that cost you $3.50. Should it be any surprise that your new idea couldn’t withstand it’s first attack from your overpaid, underqualified boss? No, not when you consider what the average kid has withstood to be here today.

Ideas are ideas. Ideas are unlimited and entirely transient. They don’t mean anything unto themselves, until they manifest into whatever they’re the idea for. Whether it’s a fusion-powered car that could run off of garbage or a commercial that could play during the Super Bowl, neither is more than a sprouting seed of creativity before it’s a product, enticement, or service.

I know, I’m stating the obvious, and I’m overreacting to a joke. But a culture that takes its ideas too seriously is just as worrisome as one that ignores their importance. I don’t mind the gore. I mind the message.

The worst thing we can do is take our ideas too seriously. Because if we do, we’ll be less likely to do what humans do best: share ideas, critique ideas and, most importantly, have a whole lot more of them. That’s the magic of creativity. It doesn’t run out.

[Image: audioscience/Shutterstock]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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