Stress Is The Enemy of Creativity

Getting started. Decisions. Stress. Persistence. Taking risks.

‘Don’t think about or talk about doing it, do it.’

Nick Comito • Louder Than Ten

Perhaps the best cure for productivity is to simply get started—even if it’s the worst possible version of what you’re trying to achieve. You can then let the momentum carry you forward. Having a rough cut is far easier and more beneficial than having nothing at all, and it will motivate you to finish. Time is the enemy of starting—the longer you wait to mull over something, the less likely you’ll start, and the more you talk about it instead of actually doing it, the more time you potentially wasted.

What is the one thing you wish you were doing, but are too hesitant to start on for fear of commitment or failure? Better to start and fail than not start and learn nothing; you’ll always learn something in the process of failure or mistakes. As Gretzky said; you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.


‘Deciding how important a decision is, is the most important decision you can make.’

Brandon Chu • The Black Box of Product Management

Being able to weigh the importance of decisions in one’s career can be a powerful skill and one that is leveraged by the most successful creatives. To prioritize and confidently determine what is and isn’t important can facilitate more efficiency by allowing focus on the right areas of your work, and even your personal growth—according to your values and what you’re trying to achieve in the long-term.

Always take care in determining which decisions are the most important; that are going to create the most positive effect. This can help you overcome decision paralysis and enable you to see the bigger picture.


‘Stress is the enemy of creativity. Our best work often comes from a state of nonchalance, when our minds are calm.’

Will Meier • The Next Web

Without stress we can produce better work. Some of the best work has come about as a result of nonchalance, or lack of perfectionism; in other words, when stress didn’t play a role. It’s also true that when an idea is over-thought, it can lose some of its original bite. Often, the first idea is the best one. Many famous artists, from Mozart to Picasso translated their ideas nonchalantly into reality with seemingly very little effort—granted from years of experience. With any form of creativity, the harder you try to make something perfect, the more you’ll over think and likely deviate the idea away from what it had the potential to be.

Perfectionism, anxiousness and fear of opinion can lead to stress, and affect creativity in a negative way. It pays to avoid stress wherever possible, so do whatever it takes to reduce it. Whether that’s through a change in focus, or a change in approach, it’s better to be creative from a place of calm.


‘Success takes time and is more of a path made of tiny little stepping stones, not just one big door to be unlocked and then instantly achieved.’

Peony Gent • It’s Nice That

Overnight success is non-existent because even in some indirect way, real success is always the result of a series of small steps—taking the long way up a flight of stairs, not hopping in an elevator to the very top. It can take many years. The point is, you shouldn’t rush success or even consider letting it be your primary focus. It’s better to be patient, yet persistent in an area you care about. To paraphrase Churchill: be persistent, and jump from one failure to the next without lack of enthusiasm.

Success can be scarier than failure—achieving it too early can be a daunting prospect because you’re potentially thrown into the deep end with even higher expectations or responsibilities, but a lack of experience. Sometimes you don’t need to plan your ultimate success. Rather, focus on the work that’s in front of you, one day at a time, and see where it takes you.


‘It will be liberating for you to have the permission to suck.’

Say Kubo • Thrive Global

Once you’re at ease about the outcomes of your passion, you can have the confidence and freedom to pursue your own path and that’s liberating. It doesn’t mean your work will suck, it just means you’ll accept it if it does. Your path is not anyone else’s, and their path isn’t yours. It’s far more rewarding to muddle through and learn in the process than never try for fear of failure. Sometimes it’s better to put yourself at the risk of making mistakes—you just have to learn to make them without fear.

Anyone who’s great at anything started somewhere, and that somewhere was probably full of uncertainty. Those that make their creations look easy have put in many untold hours of failed attempts to hone their craft.


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