Most entrepreneurs understand that one big idea can make all the difference. A clear, compelling goal has the power to inspire your team and set you up as an industry leader. But you may be wondering, what’s stopping me from being more creative?
The problem is anxiety gets in the way of finding that one big idea. Anxiety can act as an emotional barrier that blocks our ability to be creative, to get stronger, and to be active instead of reactive.
All anxiety-inducing crises that affect the creative process can be put into one of five categories. But there’s something you should know before we get to that. Coming up with big ideas is as much of an emotional process as an intellectual one.
For example, Picasso didn’t have his “blue period” because he concluded from the available data that it would further his career.
So, here are the five anxiety-drivers preventing you from thinking up the next big idea.
Fear of things outside your control
Focusing on events that are outside your control teaches you to be reactive. Why is reactivity bad for creativity? Because what you think is decided for you.
If you’re constantly worrying about what could go wrong, you’re not going to be able to focus on coming up with new ideas. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, focus on what you can control.
Fear of being out of step with the latest data
Sometimes conventional wisdom gets it wrong. Making data-driven solutions doesn’t always prove to be effective because of unseen variables.
Remember “New Coke?” Coca-Cola’s attempt to change their beloved classic formula didn’t last long. This was despite positive response from over 190,000 blind taste tests!
What happened? Coca-Cola underestimated the emotional bond their consumers had formed with their product.
Trying out new ideas that go against common sense can pay off. Claude Hopkins, one the pioneers of modern advertising, started his illustrious career going against the accepted practices of his day.
Hopkins had the idea of offering Bissell Carpet Sweepers in some interesting woods from bird’s-eye maple to Walnut. His directors, who were all ex-salesmen, opposed his idea, saying the “best practice” of the day was to emphasize “the broom action, patent dumping devices, cyco bearings, etc.”
But Hopkins’ responded his audience was women. At that time, the mechanics interested them much less than aesthetics. In the end, he was right. He sold 250,000 Sweepers in 3 weeks.
Fear of what others might think
Social pressure is difficult for everyone to overcome at one point or another. However, remember that history’s greatest achievements were made by men and women who had to run against the established opinions of the masses.
Malcom Muggeridge, a famous British journalist from the 20th century, once said, “only dead fish swim with the stream.”
On the other hand, other people’s criticisms are sound. But you won’t know if your idea is good or bad unless you put it out there and risk being proven wrong. Bad ideas are easily forgiven before we act on them.
Fear of how much work it takes to manifest the idea in reality
A great idea doesn’t mean anything unless you can execute it. In fact, a good idea well-executed will always beat a great idea poorly executed.
It’s not just about ideas, but making ideas happen. And the reality is it takes a lot of work. If you’re a creative, surround yourself with people who aren’t starters but finishers.
Better still, write your ideas down and set deadlines. Write the deadlines on a physical calendar. Get an accountability partner.
By breaking down a big project into smaller tasks, you can help ease anxiety. Plus, when you finish smaller tasks you build momentum that helps motivate you to finish the project.
Fear of failure
This is probably the most common fear that stunts creativity. Failure’s evil twin is perfectionism. Together, they torture many a would-be artistic genius.
The only way to overcome this fear is to bravely act on the belief that you are going to make mistakes. Just know that mistakes are not the same as failure. Mistakes are mere growing pains if you learn from them.
The only way around this hurdle is to face your fear. Try and fail and try again. There’s a saying among the world’s elite martial arts black belts: A black belt is a white belt that never gave up.
Don’t give up!
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