Right now, thousands of people are registering a new domain name for a new idea or business.
- They are searching for the perfect font for their new website.
- The best camera, lens, and tripod for their next photography trip.
- The perfect filter for their next Instagram post.
It feels important.
None of it actually matters.
This work isn’t scarce. It has a clear path. It’s all been done before. Anyone can learn to do it.
This work won’t be relevant in 10 years.
Neither will their venture.
You can hire an expert to do these tasks at 10X the quality and speed, for a fraction of the cost.
The work that matters most is hard to create. It’s shrouded in fear, chaos & self-doubt. Most run from it. This makes it scarce.
It’s that perfect project that you’ve designed in your mind but never started for fear of failure.
It’s the much-needed invention, that doesn’t exist yet, with no clear solution.
It’s not valued in dollars per hour or documented in a quarterly earnings report.
There are no guarantees & it might be impossible to create.
When you’re on the right path, creating what matters, the fear is waiting every morning when you wake up.
It’s compiled a long compelling list of every possible way: YOU. WILL. FAIL.
The fear says:
- Organize your project some more.
- Check your social follower count & email inbox once again.
- Put off the failure-prone, hard to create stuff, until tomorrow.
So you hide behind those small tasks that appear important but don’t take guts to create. IT’S A TRICK.
At first, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, because you’re getting small tasks done.
It feels good!
In the first year you might get further ahead than the prolific creator that’s constantly:
- Creating new stuff & quietly doing the work that terrifies them
- Battling the fear & resistance that comes from working on what matter most
- Placing all bets on themselves, their ability to solve problems, and the long game
This mistake is very hard to spot when you’re just starting out.
The prolific creator must trust in themselves, exponential growth, and the long game.
It’s the only place that they have a huge advantage.
Exponential long-term growth is almost impossible for the human mind to visualize or foresee.
Even experts in math & numbers don’t do it well.
At first, it usually improves much more slowly than the average.
In the short term, this leads to the illusion that it’s not working so most people quit due to fear of failure. BIG MISTAKE.
The prolific creator trusts in themselves and the long game, knowing that they are pre-loading all of their rewards for the next decade when their work really starts to take hold.
This is scary & feels chaotic.
The risk of not doing it is much worse.
This risk also plays the long game, so it’s very hard to see until you’re older.
It’s not as hard to work a boring “secure” job when you’re young.
You can always tell yourself, “I’ll start doing that creative work, I know I should be doing, next year.”.
As the years pass, working the hated, “secure” job, it becomes harder and harder to make the huge change required to switch.
The fear of failure also grows in the mind & becomes reality.
This is when the risk taken 10 years ago, to stay “safe” really becomes visible.
It leads to much darker & depressing realities than creative failures could ever create.
Many hate the idea of investing so much time without an immediate payout or a guaranteed solution.
They want everything to happen now, with a clearly defined path, so they work for a “safe” job, with a perfect business plan & a guaranteed income.
It is not their fault.
They were only shown one path that was wrapped in the shiny packaging of SAFETY.
Lock-step intolerance of fear & chaos.
Their teachers were not aware that fear & chaos are essential to life, evolution, and creativity.
Large centralized control systems, including many governments & businesses, attempt to remove all chaos and complexity from the world to improve so-called “stability”.
They never survive long-term, unlike decentralized creative ideas, that spread like a virus (memes), and help others for thousands of years after their creation.
Too much stability & control destroys creativity by reducing exposure to novel ideas & situations where problem-solving is required.
Fear & chaos are the evolutionary drivers of novel solutions that propel the world forward.
Some of the best human inventions came during times of war, famine, natural disaster, and all-out chaos.
In these situations, there is no other choice.
Evolve or die.
That does not mean that we should want any of these conditions to occur or try to aim for them, but we can induce their upsides to help us create while discarding the downsides.
In pure chaos, stochastic novelty is everywhere. Nothing is planned and nothing can be forecasted.
Stalin & Mao’s worst nightmare.
To survive this scenario, the brain is alive and tuned onto everything that’s going on.
It can’t model future decisions on past outcomes and goes into overdrive to solve problems & create solutions.
A failure to do so means death.
Modernity & evolution removed this scenario for now.
It’s also not the ideal world to create within, but we should know where we came from.
Pure stability has the opposite effect. It is the death of new ideas, evolution, and creativity.
When everything is boring, stable, & steady-state, entropy has won in a small pocket of the universe & evolution dies.
Modernity, via assembly line optimization, sold the world on the idea that this is the best and safest way to operate, at the cost of your well-being.
No new problems arise, thus the brain, no longer needed, atrophies and dies.
Now that we have studied the range of outcomes, from pure chaos to pure stability, let’s examine how the creator can optimize their position, between both, to take advantage of the upsides without being destroyed by the downsides.
The prolific creator must create semi-controlled pockets of chaos & fear to ensure they always have novel surroundings that produce new ideas & solutions.
They must go against the status quo and the evolutionary instinct to run from fear and chaos.
By constantly re-positioning themselves between chaos and stability they get the best of both worlds.
Like lifting weights, strengthening the body in small doses, then recoverying, controlled exposure to fear & chaos, on a daily basis, will constantly strengthen the creator & the problem-solving mind.
Pick projects, goals, and ideas that invoke fear & self-doubt in your mind.
These don’t have to be physically dangerous or chaotic scenarios.
When you’re scared, the same mental mechanism that saved your ancestors from the lions on the plains turns back on.
- Your mind senses a threat & comes alive.
- Your brain doesn’t know if your intimidating new idea is a lion or just a thought.
- You get enhanced mental acuity & energetic physical response.
- This is one of human’s most powerful tools.
It will also make you feel more alive than any other experience on earth because your body thinks you’re about to die.
Do not freeze. Move. Stay Alive.
This natural logic is the creative process.
It’s built into your genetic code.
If it wasn’t, you would not be reading this article.
Go towards the fear & chaos inside your mind.
These are the seeds of creativity.
The Practice – Fear, Chaos & The Prolific Creator
Here is how I select my daily work & carry it out.
Without a process, I don’t have the willpower to overcome the fear each day.
Pick the one thing that’s making you most uncomfortable, fearful, or scared.
Usually, this is the thing you know you should do but doesn’t have a clear path, yet.
It sits in the back of your mind and pops up when you have a free second.
This unsure path creates tension or anxiety in your mind, so you avoid it.
YOU KNOW WHAT THIS THING IS!
After defining that thing, determine what you think to be the first actionable step.
Make it quickly then test in reality.
Often, it’s the wrong choice.
Without taking it, you won’t get closer to the actual solution.
Get over the fear of failure and start doing what you think is the correct first step.
GO DO IT.
Dedicate 4 hours of your day to getting as much of it done as possible.
I provided some tips below if you have a full-time job.
Don’t get tricked into doing the repetitive work that already has a clear path.
This is not creative work!
To create means to make something new that doesn’t exist yet.
By definition, there is not a clear path, which means you will have many micro-failures.
Adjust and get back after it.
I break my creative work up into 2-hour chunks of time (controlled exposure to fear & chaos)
Then I take a break and do something very active for 30 minutes to an hour.
This could be running or push-ups or anything to snap your mind into another space.
The goal is to expose yourself to the things that make you uncomfortable or fearful every day.
Over time, as your mind gets used to this process, you no longer take yourself or fear as seriously and can actually start to be a prolific creator.
Tips for Full Time Jobs
If you have a full-time job, and enjoy it, by all means, keep doing it!
If you don’t like it, there are many ways to transition to something you do enjoy.
When I worked a full-time job and wanted to be a full-time photographer, I managed to get on the second shift at my job, so the first 6 hours of my day could be spent creating stuff I actually cared about with photography.
When on first shift, I would force myself to work on creative projects for 4 hours each night after work, no matter what.
The “5 Books that Changed My Life” post provides some great tactics.
There are a million excuses.
None of them will get you where you want to go.
The path is simple.
Face the fear. Do the work.