The Three Struggles of Creative People

Podcamp Nashville
Podcamp Nashville is local meetup of geeks, creatives, and entrepreneurs.

Tomorrow, I’m speaking at PodCamp, an “un-conference” in Nashville for local creatives, geeks, and entrepreneurs. My speaking topic is: “How to Lead and Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself).”

I’ll be sharing some lessons that I’ve learned from building and leading a marketing team and being a creative myself.

In the talk, I explain how creatives are:

  • Nonlinear
  • Imaginative
  • Introspective

The shadow side of each of those characteristics is that most creatives struggle with the following:

  • Productivity
  • Authority
  • Insecurity

Three Creative Struggles

1) Productivity

Because creatives often nonlinear, they tend to not be “process” people. Therefore, they don’t usually think in terms of cause-and-effect as much as they think in terms of raw potential. Possibilities. Dreams. Aspirations. These are the lifeblood of a creative.

The unfortunate result of this is that it is quite feasible for a creative to come up with a bunch of ideas that don’t connect to each other at all, causing you to spin your wheels without gaining any traction.

I’ve heard this confession from countless creatives that I’ve interviewed: It’s hard to be creative and productive.

2) Authority

Most creatives struggle somewhat with submission to authority or with adhering to bureaucracy. Because they are imaginative and visionary, they can often see a better way of doing something, or simple a different way.

If the “powers that be” are not open to change or being questioned (and not all are), then a creative will most likely struggle in such an environment. Most creatives don’t make good soldiers.

3) Insecurity

Most creatives struggle with insecurity at some point in their lives. Because they’re introspective and often sensitive, they are prone to identifying closely with their work. They tend to be their harshest critics.

While this can be overcome through experience and maturity, the natural tendency of a creative is to be hard on themselves. At the same time, they may be somewhat defensive and not receptive to feedback. It’s hard for creatives to separate their identity from their activity.

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Recommended reading: 9 Attitudes of Highly Creative People [Problogger]