There’s an awful stigma within creative groups, where you have to be the best in order to succeed.
Not even good enough or at least as good as those around you in the group. If you’re not contributing the most, having the biggest ideas, or making the most impact, you’re going to fail.
I’d argue it’s ok to be good enough.
To have only one out of 100 ideas accepted by the group, to have only one suggestion for the project implemented, or to be the only person focused on the pieces too small for anyone else in the group to pay attention to. Asking a lot of dumb questions, getting shrugged shoulders or rolled eyes, and bringing up things that nobody else is bringing up.
Research and real-world anecdotes have shown that collaboration thrives when the group consists of those with varying degrees of skill, talent, intelligence, and creativity.
Stick a bunch of geniuses or experts in a room and the result you’ll get is more of the same. A group of experts will only be able to see things as they’ve learned to see them in their years of experience, they lack the ability to see things in new ways. A similar issue comes up if you put a group of novices in a room: they don’t know what to look for, so they look everywhere or nowhere at the same time.
Undoubtedly the best type of collaboration comes from mixing the experts and top-of-the-class (those with a detailed knowledge of the topic, or with innate talents and abilities) with the novices (those with new eyes from which to see the work).
Why then do we insist on letting the stigma exist?
You don’t have to be the best, or the worst, to be of value to the group or team you work in. You just have to be willing to speak-up, participate, and let nothing prevent you from doing so. Especially not your own inner fear that what you have to say is worthless, silly, or otherwise invaluable. Because no matter where you see at around the table of experience or talent, your input can be just what the team needs to see things from a different perspective.
We as creatives must embrace this notion of naivety as valuable.
For the group: this means welcoming ideas and input from even the most quiet and new members of the team. For us as individuals: this means not being afraid to speak-up or put in effort, even when we feel like our efforts won’t be as valuable as others in the group.
“It takes someone…constantly nagging, asking disruptive questions, to get people to take a fresh look at their assumptions.” – Stuart Lindsay
Read this next: The power of naive questions