We all struggle with being creative from time to time. We may feel like we have lost something, and nothing seems to spark that creative flow. What is killing your creativity? Your ego is the biggest killer of creativity. The struggle tends to become an issue for people in the middle and later years of their career.
The Biggest Creativity Killer
When you are called upon to be highly innovative and creative, the fear of failure can often step in and stump you. You might subconsciously have a bias towards making yourself look good and feel good. This bias feeds your ego and vanity and turns into a vicious cycle. I have seen many people get caught in this cycle and eventually get stuck in a rut.
If you look at highly innovative individuals, they tend to be most prolific in their early thirties. This cycle happened to breakthrough artists and inventors such as Ansel Adams, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, and many more.
As you achieve success, it becomes more challenging and more problematic as it feeds the ego. Naturally, you will act in ways that fit into how you want to be perceived by others, resulting in a creativity killer. For example, if you are a top innovator, you will fall into the trap of keeping that specific image or brand. When this happens, your lifestyle, identity, social status, reputation, etc., will impact the creative risks you are willing to take.
You may wonder how I came across all this knowledge of the topic. The knowledge I have comes from what I experienced in my own life. I had great success in the innovation space early on in my career.
In my mid to late twenties, I won two best product of the year awards two years in a row. Three times I led teams that won Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Teams” awards, I did numerous products, had a radio show, and now a podcast. Looking back at how I used to be versus how I am now, I realize I am completely different. I now have a brand, a reputation, accolades, and an ego. I recognize that I have let that get in the way of things and hold me back in the past.
Everyone wants people to like them and to keep giving them positive feedback. The more we build up those accolades, the fewer risks we start to take, opening up room for a killer of creativity. To achieve creative success, you need to be aware of your vanity and let go of your ego. Disconnecting your ego from creativity enables you to take risks, which opens up the opportunity for outside success.
Taking risks is essential for innovation success. Without it, you are not going to make progress. Taking risks open up previously unconsidered areas. When you stop caring about what people perceive to be true about you; then you will see success. While this concept is simple, it is not an easy thing to do.
Keeping Your Ego at Bay
The most significant way to keep your ego at bay is to stop comparing yourself to others. Each of us is on a different creative journey. The path I’m on is not the path you should be on, as no two paths are the same. If you keep comparing yourself to others, you are feeding that ego and will end up disappointed.
In my opinion, social media hurts a lot in this area, primarily through how it impacts your ability to be creative. Social media is not reality, and often give us the idea that we are not as good as others. Don’t try to be somebody else, rather be the best version of yourself. Don’t shy away from your natural gifts and talents because you will get into a state of self-doubt if you do. Once this happens, you lose your ability to be creative and innovative.
We are currently in a transition from the information and knowledge economy to the creative and innovation economy. Allowing room for a creativity killer will halt your creative potential. You need to find ways to continually nurture your creativity and keep that ego at bay, to be successful going forward.
To know more about the biggest creativity killer, listen to this week's show: What is the Biggest Killer of Creativity?