Barrier 5 Success

Perhaps the greatest irony surrounding creativity is that one of the major barriers to creative success is success itself—an attachment of the highest order. Time and again, I see people and companies holding onto ideas, processes, products, all manner of things that contributed to success at one time or another in their history. These things have long outlived their usefulness, but are retained simply because they were part of the success formula at one point in time.

In areas (e.g., graphic design, advertising and architecture) where personal style often defines an individual or company, this is particu-

Timeline of a great idea (continued)

Timeline of a lousy idea (continued)

"How could they give the promotion to that idiot?"

larly true. Alfred Hitchcock said that style is self-plagiarism. Many people do something great at a given point in their careers and are forever influenced by that event, either thinking they have found the creative solution that works for all situations or fearful that they'll never have such a big idea again.

The sad truth for many individuals and companies is that attachment to success heralds the beginning of the end of creative growth. The sadder truth is that more companies are forced to go out of business and more careers are derailed by people doing something they've done for years than by people doing new things. We tend to very quickly put floundering new companies, products, or services out of their misery compared to how slowly and reluctantly we end something that we've lived with for years, even if it is no longer relevant or serving us.

Cheat Notes for Chapter 20: The Five Greatest Barriers to Creativity

Fear of the unknown. Just exploring new ideas often brings on fear because new ideas are in the great unknown.

Fear of looking stupid. What will they think?


Judgment. Many ideas are stifled as delicate little seedlings because we judge them too early.


Attachment. Resistance to change, attachment to the old, and reluctance to even explore what might be a better way of doing things.

Success. Attachment to past successes often heralds the end of creative growth.

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