Where creativity lies

We want to believe that creativity is regularly awe-inspiring. It’s not though.

As I was sitting in a bookstore the other day I noticed a woman commenting on a feature story of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. She was speaking to her friend when she said: “I’m amazed at how creative this guy is, look at what he’s done with Amazon! I wish I could be half that creative.”

But what Bezos has done with Amazon isn’t all that creative to those who work with him or – I’d wager – even to himself.

For Bezos and his employees, every new thing that comes along from the company (the Amazon Kindle, for example) is just another part of their process, something they’ve been working towards for at least a little while. By the time you or I hear about anything they’ve done, the creative spark has died out long ago, the “wow” factor has diminished.

Day-in and day-out the things the people at Amazon do are likely the same, but to you and I everything that comes out of their doors is innovative, creative, awe-inspiring.

What looks remarkably creative to you may not be creative to me.

What appears as a new art style to us is just another day in the studio for the artist. The same can be said for nearly any other idea that makes it to market or into a gallery or mentioned on Tumblr.

Minecraft seemed to break the gaming mold, but to it’s creators it was obvious. The iPhone revolutionized how we use phones, but to Steve Jobs it was just another thing that had to get done.

If you want to really have creative ideas then you can’t look at what’s being done and be all that moved.

The things those you look up to (or hear about in the news or read in magazines) are great, undoubtedly, but it’s what you come up with next that matters. And, for you at least, what comes next isn’t going to be something you read about or see on Reddit.

What comes next – where creativity lies – is going to be, as Seth Godin puts it, at the edges of everything else.

Original illustration via Vicent Spain.