On Being Creative, Innovative, and Failing (Or Not)

I had the pleasure of attending Andrea J. Lee‘s Wealthy Thought Leader event via simulcast over the weekend.

Many of the talks were right up my alley, focusing on creativity, innovation, and getting your message to the world.

Here are a few highlights you’ll enjoy. It’s a bit jam-packed with power thoughts, but I know you’ll find just the right bits that will inspire you.

Nurture Your Creativity

One of the brilliant speakers was Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid and three other books. Michael emphasized how important it is for us to nurture our creativity.

He mentioned, “the more creative you perceive yourself to be, the more creative you will be.”

Love that.

Some of my other favorite takeaways from his talk:

  1. “An artist’s job is to break the rules, to look at what is and to say, ‘What if?'”
  2. “What’s more important to you: Approval? Or results?” Your desire to be liked can kill your creativity.
  3. Articulate first what it is that you want to do, then recofigure what already exists. That’s innovation. (This reminds me of my recent article about pants and trains.)
  4. Michael also talked about failing spectacularly and seeing it not as a failure but rather as evidence of moving closer and closer to his dreams.

Push Your Creative Edge

Another favorite speaker of mine was Michael Bungay Stainer, who seems to fully embody the very essence of creativity. Michael is known on Twitter as Box of Crayons, and is the author of Do More Great Work and Get Unstuck and Get Going.

Stainer was full of brilliance in the realm of innovation and pushing your creative edge.

He pointed out:

  1. The danger of focusing only on the TABO (“True and Bleedingly Obvious”) and instead aiming for making it cool, extraordinary, or truly exceptional. We must be willing to be thought leaders and to be different (no matter how scary that is).
  2. The difference between being scared and scarred, and how our wounds are great sources of strength, wisdom, and stories waiting to be told. (I know you’ve heard me say, “You teach what you are here to learn.”)
  3. “When all is said and done, there’s a lot more said than done.” Or as Sonia Choquette would say, “Too much talking!”
  4. And a long time favorite of mine from Ernest Hemingway, “The first draft of anything is SHIT.”
  5. He gave us a number of tools to play with to push the envelope with our projects, like:
  • How can you cut out 90%? (Think audience, content, size, price, packaging, etc.)
  • How can increase the impact by 100 times? (Think increasing numbers of products, increasing the audience, increasing the distribution.)
  • Break the rules — list out 7 rules that apply to your idea. Pick one, and think of 5 ways you can break it.
  • Using criteria to select which projects to focus on: What’s easiest? What’s the fun thing to do? Which will have the most impact? What do you want to do?

Failure is Not What It Seems

I also loved hearing from photographer and relationship healer Jesh de Rox talk about art, creativity, innovation, and failing:

  1. “An artist is someone who doesn’t wait for someone else’s permission to make decisions that belong to them.”
  2. “An innovator is an artist who embraces business or a business person who embraces art.”
  3. “We are not good at telling whether or not something is a failure.” He made a number of powerful points about why and how failure is NOT what it seems and how it can be such an incredible gift, including:
  • “Easy wins make crummy stories.”
  • “Failing gives you an opportunity to find out who loves you.”
  • “Taking failure personally is crippling.”
  • “ANYTHING that happens to you can be a reason to stop or a reason to continue.” You have a choice. “Our heroes seem to be the ones who consistently choose the latter.”


Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about:

  • What this sparks for you.
  • How do you see innovation and creative expression?
  • How have you reframed “failure” or how can you?


Coming Attractions



~> May 31st, 2011. My Artist’s Way Accountability & Support Group completes. Details.

~> June 9th, 16th, and 23rd, 2011. My brand new Life Purpose Breakthrough Group event series. Details.

~> June 16th, 2011. Next broadcast of my Dreamification Radio show on Radio Lightworker. Details. Listen from anywhere in the world to this Internet radio show.


  1. Jennifer Carmack says:

    The difference in being scared and scarred – reading that sent shivers. Thank you for sharing that information. It was important for me to get it.
    Namaste Jenna!

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