Why pursue creative ideas, even when you’re bound to be wrong

We tend celebrate the creative thinkers among us not merely for their successful ideas, but for their courage.

Any time someone has the guts to question the status quo, to propose an alternative way forward, or to create in the wake of destruction, they’re doing so at cost. Cost to their reputation, or well-being, or way of life.

When they turn out to be right we celebrate whatever it is they’ve unlocked: a new idea, a new way of seeing, a new object of creation. Their struggle and courage often falls behind the wayside, overshadowed by the result of their efforts.

When they’re wrong the creative person still has a tremendous impact on the world, but one that is quietly valued rather than openly and loudly celebrated. If you want to be a creative thinker this is an important lesson to be mindful of.

Sometimes, for a few of us, the courage to press forward and try something new and different is enough to captivate an audience. Even if just an audience of one, they watch by the sidelines as we struggle and climb and destroy and create endlessly. And sometimes that’s enough; to keep going, to keep trying, to keep creating.

Because what we often find when we push through in-spite of a lack of any victory, is things change. We make an impact merely by trying. As my friend Deb once told me:

“If you win, you lead. If you lose, you guide.”

Meaning: if your idea or creation or whatever works out, you end up leading others; to use your creation, to follow your way of thinking, to do or see things differently. And if your work ends up failing, you’re still adding value to those paying attention. You show them where not to go, how not to think, what not to try. If your idea or creation wins, you lead. If it fails, you guide. Both are important and necessary in the world we live in.

After more than 10 years I still blog about creativity. Not for the esteem or celebration or whatever else. I write on creativity because no matter what happens I’m influencing and inspiring others.

Even those who don’t agree with everything I write are impacted by what they read. Maybe they feel motivated to prove me wrong, or to write their own arguments, or to share and chastise. Others are inspired, moved to action, given a few moments for reflection. Either way: these small, uncelebrated ideas have an affect on those who come across them.

By putting the words out into the world I’m shaping it. And you can too. All it takes is the courage to start: writing a post, sharing an idea, recording a video or podcast, drawing and sharing what you doodle on Instagram, you name it.

When we step up to not only have ideas, but also have the courage to share them and put them to the test, we’re saying: “I want to see where this goes and anyone who’s paying attention is welcome to come along for the ride.” And that, I think, is enough to celebrate for ourselves.