Please Create Something
There’s a supercomputer in your pocket. It’s begging you to use it properly.
It’s begging you to use it to create something. To create a blog, or a podcast, or a website, or – something that doesn’t exist yet.
We take jobs where we wait to be told what to do next, and we apply that mindset to how we use our devices. Advertisers create commercials for cellphones that show emojis, cat videos, filters and other nonsense. They never try to sell us on the idea that we can use these devices for connection and real creativity.
Yes – real creativity. Real creativity is the hard work of creating something that doesn’t have an instruction manual. Maybe there’s a guide, or a template, but not an instruction manual. Creating a personal Facebook sticker? That’s artificial creativity.
Anyways, why aren’t we being sold more on the idea that we can use these devices to create novelty? Or to connect to people who are doing interesting work? To connect to people who are fostering communities that we wish to be a part of?
Because the hard work of creating a website, of crafting a genuine personal brand with an honest narrative, of buying the equipment to start a podcast, of writing a concise email to a leader in a community that you wish to be a part of, those aren’t easy sells. Distractions are an easy sell. Artificial creativity – like personal Facebook stickers – are an easy sell. A ticket off the hook is an easy sell.
Oh, wait, I can use this device to create something? I wish I had known that earlier. I wish I had known that twenty years ago.
And you would have known that twenty years ago. Remember the advertisements for Apple computers that put emphasis on how the desktop computer could be used for creativity? I don’t know when exactly, but at some point in the last twenty years, we started valuing the use of technology as a distraction over the use of technology as a tool for leveraging our curiosity.
Please teach us what you know. Please show us what you learned from your experiments in building something from scratch. Please – create something.
It might be scary. Stepping into the unknown always is. But I promise you that whatever you decide to create is going to be more original, more novel, and more generous than whatever Facebook recommends that you create.
When considering what work you should do, you have two choices.
The first choice is to do the work of waiting for somebody or something to tell you what to do next.
Of course, there could be reasons why you would want to pick the first choice. You need to play the game to be promoted. You need to follow the rules. I’m not arguing that there’s no reason to follow directions, that we should all be anarchists with no systems in place. But too often, we see this choice as the only choice that’s available to us. And worse, we pick this choice as a way to hide, as a way to defend ourselves from blame, responsibility, and accountability. This wasn’t my fault. I was just doing what I was told to do. That’s cowardice disguised as obedience.
The second choice is to do the work of deciding for yourself what it is that you should do next. This is the choice of bearing the burden of blame, responsibility, and accountability. Yes, this was my fault. I’m going to do my best to fix this issue. Thank you for pointing it out to me. I’m going to start this project. I’m going to put this message out there. Real responsibility gives cowardice no place to hide. And the time to hide is over. It’s been over for the last twenty years.
To conclude, a few things to consider as you move forward with your work.
Consider bearing the responsibility of starting your own (fill in the blank).
Consider building a portfolio of things that you created, a portfolio that consists even of your failures and the projects that went nowhere. Consider this, please, instead of another resume filled with the hottest buzzwords that everyone else is using.
Consider throwing away your old name-tags, and instead, build a name for yourself, a brand for yourself that’s built upon your portfolio of work that you’re proud of.
Consider creating content that gives people a sense that they can really trust you, a sense that they can actually hold you accountable to deliver what you’ve promised to deliver.
And finally, to borrow the words from the author you know that I’m a raving fanboy of, consider designing a life based upon work that you don’t need an escape from.
Disregard distractions. Disregard emojis and filters and stickers.