What’s more important for creatives?

Thinking or doing?

For a long time I mistakenly believed that creativity was all about the ideas, about the process of thinking. And, to a large degree, it is. Creativity is all about thoughts and thinking.

But when it came to the creatives I aspired to be like – Tina Roth EisenbergJonathan HarrisStefan Sagmeister, to name a few – there was something interesting about their creative careers.

For them, what mattered wasn’t the ideas.

This initially confused me.

Here I was believing that to be creative we had to learn how to think (and that’s true, but only at a small scale), and these people that were well-known creatives doing work that mattered were out there actually doing things.

Now, years after I began researching what it means to be creative, I’ve learned that it’s not all about the thoughts.

In-fact: creativity is only a small part of thinking. What’s more important is the act of doing something with those ideas.

Having creative ideas is actually really easy. Really easy. There are countless exercises to help you have new ideas.

Anyone can have those ideas if they adjust their perspective, change how they think, or simply ask different questions.

So why do we give so much value to the act of thinking? Even as creatives: ideation gets paid the most when it comes to our attention.

On the other hand is the work: making those ideas into a reality. Experimenting, trying, failing, fixing, tinkering, making, and doing it on an endless record of repeat.

Yes, there are those who are paid just for their ability to think creatively (commonly referred to as “thought leaders”) but even they are more likely to act and do than merely think.

Even the eldest of creative thinkers, who spend a majority of their time in spotlights consulting and guiding and debating, got there through action. They are able to provide value through their thoughts because they spent years (often decades) doing the work required to formulate those thoughts.

And yet we still see even the greatest of those who are deemed as being creative as the ones who act. Who do.

Edison at the workbench, Einstein at the chalkboard. Picasso at a canvas, and Mozart at the piano. Steven Pressfield behind the keyboard, Hugh MacLeod behind a pen, Steve Jobs behind the drawing board.

So here we are, thinking about being creativity, wondering, pondering, questioning, and all we really need to be doing is trying something. Doing.

The value of creativity is more action than process, more tangible than imaginary. It’s the ability to see things as they aren’t and then attempt make them that way.