Monogamy and creativity don’t mix.

I’m a creative and so are you. Because I dare say that, whether you’re an accountant keeping the books, a lawyer interpreting the law, or a schoolteacher inspiring pupils, on some level every single one of us is a creative. I like to think that it’s a mindset as much as a skill set that many of us share. And being a creative is being aware that whatever you create – numbers, a winning defence, apt pupils – is as much about self-fulfilment as helping others. That’s right, because the one thing we have in common is that we all work for someone, one way or the other. And we all know that to keep working for others – or with others – we need to keep them happy. But to be happy ourselves we need to keep our creative juices flowing. Quite the conundrum. It’s like when courting our clients-to-be, we’ll do anything to make them choose us. We’re all vying for their attention, trying to seduce them. And once we’re in a meaningful relationship we expect them to be loyal. Unequivocally. We want them to be virtuous, while we build our own little client harems. Do you see the ambiguity? Maybe, from a Schopenhauer perspective, we just can’t help ourselves. Because we want both the familiarity and security of a steady partner, but also the thrill of the adventure of a new one. Don’t’ get me wrong: we love our clients dearly. We just want to get the most out of our creative lives, knowing that variety is the spice of it all.

So perhaps we go about it the wrong way. Maybe we shouldn’t hold monogamy in such high regard. At least not where it concerns creativity. American psychologist Robert Sternberg defines a successful romantic relationship on the basis of three components: passion, intimacy and commitment. According to Sternberg once intimacy has reached a certain point of saturation, from that moment on passion will fade. But that’s hardly a surprise, is it? Because in all honesty we already knew that everlasting passion with the same partner is a myth, or did we? Now let’s say that the same goes for business relationships, and that we’d better make it interesting to keep passion from fading out. And there it is: the paradox of wanting to be passionate with as many clients as possible. In a different context, to say the least, that kind of behaviour would be frowned-upon. But as creatives we are in constant need of new relationships. They enrich, rather than diminish, our own creativity as well as that of others.

So keep aspiring to be inspiring. Keep feeding your curiosity. Okay sure, it killed the cat, but the cat doesn’t mind ‘cause she has eight more lives. But if you only have one, you’d better make it count. Curiosity is fuel for change. It makes you want to stand out, where others stand down (thank you for that Bartle, Bogle & Hegarty, and for your never ending inspiration!). Don’t settle for mediocrity, because only the mediocre are always at their best. Creative hero Jim Bull from Moving Brands gives us a choice in his recent presentation: in an endless sea of sameness it’s either being popular or brilliant. So please choose brilliant. brilliant, be radiant and be available. I’m not advertising having secret or casual relationships. I’m not asking anyone to go at it like bunnies. Quite the opposite, because the rules of a meaningful creative relationship still stand: honesty, clarity and respect above all, but supplemented with an open mind to open-source. So make as many connections as possible and don’t keep them all to yourself. Share and be shared. Because sharing is caring, and only then you‘ll be able to make your clients, or partners, or co-creators, or whoever you’re in a relationship with tinge with anticipation. And only then Jim Bull’s Sea of Sameness will part for you to cross to the Promised Land.

Feel free to use this article. Put ‘consumer’ where it says ‘client’. Or ‘employee’. Or whatever. Just go forth and procreate. And don’t ever cheat; your many connections will love you for it.

Check out Jim Bull’s presentation Popular vs Brilliant here: www.designersandgeeks.com/events/popular-versus-brilliant

11 november 2018

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