The Secret to Creative Growth

This afternoon, as I was lying down reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac I had a thought I wanted to share with you.

I saw this news clip earlier today, and the impact of it didn’t hit until now…

You can’t get ahead by hanging on. Clinging to where you are or what you had will never lead to growth, it leads to a slow painful death.

If you want to grow, you need to have faith, you have to let go and trust the bottom won’t kill you, that maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll bounce when you hit.

It’s the same reason drunks have the uncanny knack for surviving car accidents… they are relaxed at impact while sober people tighten up trying to avoid the inevitable and their own desire to survive helps kill them.

It’s like the football team playing the prevent. They aren’t playing to win, they are playing not to lose. The greatest comebacks in history were made against teams that had given up on playing to win and decided to try not to lose.

Clinging to what you have is an act of desperation. It isn’t creative, it isn’t helpful, and you won’t like the results.

The secret to creative growth is the opposite of clinging, it is the act of letting go.

7 thoughts on “The Secret to Creative Growth”

  1. Sweet, short and concise, Steve. Been following your posts for a while and this one hits close to home. As a career entrepreneur (I HATE the stupid term Serial Entrepreneur – it sounds pathological!), it’s all about that moment of truth when you’re standing there at the edge of that cliff looking over the crevasse (or you’re at the shore of a raging river). I’ve always been the one to step off that ledge and never fall. The thrill of flying (or walking on water) never seems to diminish with time. If anything, you get better at it with age.

    But keep in mind that one doesn’t leap of just any cliff or step into any rapids – you have to pick carefully and know that it’s the right one. And that does take practice. They don’t call it a leap of faith for nothing. There is nothing quite the same as the incredible rush of a startup when everything starts to fall into place. But again, your point about being able to let go is important. I compare a startup to creating a painting: You start with very broad strokes, then you begin filling in details in different areas and you see a picture emerge. But you still have to keep a light hand because often you won’t know how the final painting will look. You just have to have faith that in the end, it will still turn out as a masterpiece. That’s real faith in your convictions!

  2. Robert,

    I appreciate the comment. Coming from a career entrepreneur it means a lot to me. What I’m trying to do with this blog is learn and share and so far it has been a great tool for that.

    My wife and my father-in-law are career entrepreneurs, while I’ve always been a kind of worker-bee. So your comments are very valuable.

    As I’ve aged I’ve discovered so much about the entrepreneurial mindset that surprised me. When you say “But keep in mind that one doesn’t leap of just any cliff or step into any rapids – you have to pick carefully and know that it’s the right one. And that does take practice. They don’t call it a leap of faith for nothing.” After many years of searching, I think I finally understand this. Faith is built like muscle. It must be used frequently and built incrementally. You don’t just go bench press 400 lbs your first day, you’ll get crushed. That’s what happened to the guy in the news clip. Once he knew he was in over his head, he couldn’t accept it and he held on to a sinking ship. Now he has to start from the beginning again and that really isn’t that bad a thing, as long as he learned what he did wrong.

  3. Thanks, Steve. One of those old sayings I’ve picked up along the way: Success is getting up one more time than you get knocked down.

  4. Great article Steve. You really got to the heart of things with this post. So many times people, myself included, enjoy a success and instead of moving on to the next one they attempt to cling to that one time they “hit it”. That is a sort of “creative suicide” for sure as we have to keep moving forward.
    As you said, you have to have faith to continue to grow. So true. I sometimes tell people that there are times when you have to just jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. 🙂

  5. Hey Steve,

    Great book, by the way.

    And you’re absolutely right, thinking about the past or satisfying yourself with less-than-perfect presents will only lead you to a BLEND life.

    When you live trying to “get by” life will just “pass you by” and not leave you anything worth remembering.

    I encourage myself to push a little harder because I know success is right around the corner; one more step and I’m there, retired, free, healthy, whatever!

    The alternative is just too scary to think of: if you give up, you’re taking in failure, which is unacceptable.

    Thank you!

  6. Great post! I agree 100%. I’ve experienced an explosion of growth during the past few months, and it all started with letting go — I stepped out of a business that was consuming most of my time and energy but wasn’t in line with my true passions.

    Quitting soul-crushing work is sometimes very difficult precisely because it disconnects us from ourselves to a point where we are unable to perceive what we really care for anymore. We become apathetic and confused. And we use our lack of a better alternative to cling to the work that is crushing our souls. A vicious circle that is difficult to break.

    I address these issues in a recent blog post:

  7. Yes yes.. i love this article. The act of letting go and allowing inspiration to come to you. This is the key to being creative. Creativity isn’t forced but is something that comes when your mind is relaxed and calm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *