“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams
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One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is you don’t have to be the best, you only have to be different.
There’s a lot of truth to this, because trying to be the best at what everyone else is doing is still merely following the crowd. On the other hand, seeking to be different sets you apart from the crowd because you don’t look like everyone else—making you and your work unique and compelling.
For example, when I was a young boy my mother used to make Halloween costumes for me and my brother. Without fail, we would consistently win top prizes at the annual town costume contest—not necessarily because our costumes were great, but rather because they were different from the rest of the store-bought costumes everyone else wore.
In entertainment, you might use creativity by combining contrasting talents. For example, the Smothers Brothers was a successful folk singing duo that reached national fame during the 1960s and 1970s. It’s questionable whether they would have been so successful, however, had it not been for the use of humor in their act, since musically they were virtually indistinguishable from any other folk group of their time.
In education, you might use creativity by teaching lessons through the use of engaging games, such as how many schools are now using the popular game Minecraft to teach common core lessons.
In training and development, you might use creativity to solve a human performance problem without the need for training. For example, employees who know how to do a task but don’t always remember the correct order of steps don’t necessarily need another training session, but they could certainly benefit from a job aid to jog their memory.
And in business, you might use creativity by offering a novel solution to a common need. For example, Airbnb is perhaps the most successful lodging company in business today, yet they don’t own a single hotel.
Remember, you don’t necessarily have to be the best, because if you instead focus on being different you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd as a unique and compelling individual.
How might you bring more creativity into your life, relationships, and career?
Jonas Cain is an instructional designer, facilitator of fascination, and purveyor of positivity—helping to initiate and manage positive change for individual, team, and community growth.