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Why “No” Is Extremely Creative


“Saying ‘no’ has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.” – Kevin Ashton

Battleship Creativity

This past week I was having a conversation with some of my creative coworkers, Amy and Michael. They were having a conversation about what it’s like to narrow down a point of a talk we have to support creatively.

There’s two ways you can face a system like this. You can complain that you never know what you have to support till the last minute OR you can take action. As Michael was explaining what we can do (the second option) I said, it’s like playing Battleship!

Sometimes you have to zero in on your creative content. You know it’s out there in the big, blue expanse of your mind (or someone else’s). Sometimes you just need to start shooting. Start with small, cheap ammunition. Ideas, questions, examples, that way you don’t waste the good stuff. Once you hear that ping of contact, start unloading the big stuff. That’s when you start developing, prototyping, getting others opinions.

When you have the opportunity to help support others ideas, make sure you do the work to understand exactly where they are. Play a little game of Battleship Creativity.

1 Idea, Infinite Variations

Ever think you are stuck in a rut creatively? Feel like you are boxed in with what you can or are able to do? Then watch this…

(You’ll want to watch the whole thing)

This is just one song with a lot of creative approaches to it. What’s that one thing you are tired of doing but have to keep doing? Pick that thing up, turn it around, ask some questions. How would someone else do this? What’s something unique about it that I haven’t capitalized on? Shake things up a little bit and see what you find.

It won’t work every time but that one time it does, it will be awesome.

(HT: Carlos)

Resource Dump #3

Hey, it’s a Wednesday post as promised! Thanks for being gracious as I work out a new blog schedule for myself and continue to try to write the best stuff for you to read! Usually in the resource dump posts I try to have different “mediums” of resources to share. Today they are all the same! Today’s posts contain three blogs that I HAVE to read. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of blog I subscribe to. When things get busy I just skip over some of them. These three I will always read. Since they are that good, I want to share them with you! – I’ve been following Justin’s content (Blog/Twitter/Facebook) for a few years now. I’ve always found it challenging and filled with quality stuff. I don’t believe Justin would post or write about something that 1) he didn’t believe or 2) he felt shouldn’t be asked. I’ve certainly learned a lot about Social Media through Justin and also have really rearranged the way I do things because of him sharing the way he does his things. (Productivity for the Win!) Also, he finds the best stats!

History In The Making (Ben Arment) – Ben is a producer of people. He see’s things or hears of things that people are doing and figures out how to help them be better at what they are doing, or help others through what this person is doing. That’s just a personal commentary from what I’ve noticed afar. I like his blog. Simple, short and sweet. He shares things that he comes across in life and I find those things inspire me in what I’m doing. Also, check out a great conference he runs called Story and his “coaching” program called Dream Year.

Stephen Brewster – I’ve just started following Stephen’s blog in the past year. He’s the Creative Arts pastor at They put out killer stuff. So naturally, I want to know what he’s learning and sharing with his team. If you are involved in a creative process (anywhere) check out his blog. He shares some great tips and questions that help stimulate creativity or get you out of that rut.

These are just three of my must read blogs, I actually have a couple others to share down the road. What blogs are on your must read list?

A To-Do List (Of Sorts)

Creating, ideas, getting and things done need to have structure. It can be simple or it can be very complex. It works best on your own terms. But most times it centers around to-do lists. To-do lists range from the simple lined sheet of paper to some complex web app that shares tasks with a whole team. Today I thought I’d share with you some to-do list options that have lots of potential depending on your work environment and your personal way of doing things.

1) Paper – One of the oldest ways of doing to-do lists is writing it down on paper. This has morphed over the years to more trendy forms of to-do lists like using a Moleskine, but all the same. Depending on your style paper can be a great way to dive into To-Do lists. If it’s something you keep with you all the time (like a moleskine) then even better.

2) Action Method – Action Method is a method (obviously) of managing a to-do list. Created by the genius’s behind the Behance network it’s designed to be used in a way that suits you best. It’s flexible and has “rules”. You can use Action method via paper products the company sells, Action Method Online, or by using one of their Action Method Apps. Either way I find this to be one of the most helpful tools out there when it comes to getting things done. This method along with their book has helped me immensely.

3) EvernoteI’ve blogged about Evernote before but another great use for it is to use it as a to-do list. If you have a smartphone, and a computer or access to the internet you can always have access to Evernote (and your to-do list). Evernote actually has great check-box lists you can make to help it feel even more like a list. Again, Evernote can do much more then this, but it’s a good option if you already spend a lot of time in it.

4) Clear – Clear is one of the most simple to-do apps that I have ever come across. I’m more of a paper person when it comes to to-do lists but I use Clear often. Because of it’s simplicity I use it for quick lists. Grocery store lists or maybe a list of errands I have to run on a Saturday. I don’t usually recommend breaking up lists between mediums but Clear is perfect for it. You can also use it for more complex lists as well. You can have categories, sublists, etc. Check it out here.

5) Orchestra T0-Do – One of the last apps that I’ve been wowed by is Orchestra. This is another app that can be used personally or with a team or really any individual for that matter. It’s got a great user interface and has some great features like “speak your to-do” and chats with other people centered around items on your list. Again, if I was going to use an app I would strongly consider this one. They also have a great web app companion to use on your computer. Check out the App and Online versions here.

There are five options for you. (In case you were looking for something like this) I’d love to hear what you use. I know there are so many options out there. What kind of struggles have you had with to-do lists? 

(Photo Props)

Is The System Failing?

I normally don’t like posting videos two weeks in a row, but this video came out last week and I thought it could be a great thought or conversation starter. This is part 4 of a video series called “Everything is a Remix”. It’s a short video series on creativity and where great ideas come from. If you haven’t seen any of the earlier videos, I’d encourage you to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The video is a little on the longer side but it is very interesting and will go by quickly. Take a few minutes to watch this then I’ll have a couple comments on the flip side.

Ok, I’ll start off by saying the flow of logic at the beginning from Evolution to Social Evolution isn’t necessarily something I believe it, but I understand the point he is making. And I really think he is making a great point. The point isn’t that the system has failed us…(which we could have an argument on all day) the point is that it’s OUR responsibility. If the system has failed us, it’s our fault. We created and contribute to the systems.

So, my question is simple. What are you doing to take responsibility of with what you create, and with moving our culture forward? 

My favorite example of how people have been trying to help change this is in the music industry. Some of the best music (and most original) that I’ve been hearing is being made by friends and acquaintances. And guess what…most of the time they give it away for free. This is because they understand that the influence is worth more then the immediate gain.

Don’t get me wrong, money isn’t wrong and we need to learn how to make a living. Just make sure that what you are offering is greater then what you are expecting. Give more then what you take. Be responsible with your ideas, your creations, your songs, your art.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you giving more than what you are taking? Are we beings of “taking” or “creating”?

Use Your Tools Well!

When engaging in the creative process and implementing ideas tools can go a long way. We all have tools at our disposal. Computers, cameras, instruments, paint, our ideas, how we teach, books, the list can go on and on.

A lot of times when we have ideas we try to spice them up with tools. What can often happen though is we lean on them to heavily to make our idea better. That’s usually not best, and others notice when you do that. Check out the video below to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Now, obviously these guys go over the top with how to use all these tools wrong, the main focus being on the PowerPoint slide show. But, we’ve all been in that presentation, or church sermon, or concert where the person using the tools was doing it all wrong. So, here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding on that “creative element” to help your ideas sink in.

1) How does this tool help punctuate the point? – This is a serious question to ask. So often people (me included) use a tool because we think it will be cool and add a “wow” factor to what we are doing. Most times it does add that “wow” factor. But, do you want people to remember the wow or the what? Make sure you use tools that help punctuate your point.

2) What’s it going to cost you? – A second question you should ask is what’s it going to cost you? Sometimes we can come up with this crazy, out of this world idea to help support another idea. The problem is, the cost to execute that supporting idea won’t pay off. Cost can be anything from money, time, energy, anything that could take away from developing the main idea first. Again, it’s not bad to use something that will cost you, just make sure it will be worth the cost.

Just to make sure I’m clear. Using tools aren’t bad. They are actually great! The problem that we usually run into is that we use great tools to help support a not so great idea. In effect, killing the greatness of the creative tool we are using.

So, the next time you are doing that guitar solo and you add all the delay to make it sound better, work on nailing the guitar part first. Add the delay to sweeten it. Or, maybe you build a 50 slide presentation so that the crowd doesn’t look at your nervous teaching style. Slides aren’t bad, but working on the way you present will have the best results. Make sure your idea gets the attention it deserves and that your tools aren’t getting in the way.

What tools do you struggle to use well?

Resource Dump #2

Well, it’s that time again! I thought it was about time to do another resrouce dump and let you know the things that I’ve been loving lately. It’s pretty simple. I’ll share three things (resources) that have been helping in my journey lately. The only think I ask for you to do is to share one resource that you’ve been digging lately below in the comments. It’s pretty easy!


Resource 1) The Way of the Shepherd by Kevin Leman – I’m about to finish this book up. It was recommended to me by my friend Peter after we had a conversation about leadership and managing people. I’d highly encourage you to read this book if you are a manager. It’s short, super simple and the principles are simple, great reminders of how to lead people. The book is written in an engaging way that helps you remember these principles as well. Check it out!

Resource 2)  Flipboard (App) – This is a great app. I know it’s been around for a while and has already received a lot of attention. I tried it a few months ago and really didn’t like it. As of recent, I’ve found myself needing to cut back on some blogs (tech/news/etc) but still wanted a way to catch up or scan through things quickly without it being something I needed to clean out of my RSS Reader. Flipboard became the perfect thing for that. Instead of having news sites or mac rumors dumping into my RSS, I can now open up Flipboard and catch up and read the articles that I want to read. And it looks amazing too. The only down side is that it’s iOS only, so my Android friends can’t get it.

Resource 3) “For The Honor” Elevation Worship (Music) – It might seem weird to put music as a resource but it’s not. It can actually be a great resource. For me, it helps me connect with God. Maybe you read my blog and that’s not something that’s important to you or you don’t like worship music, either way I understand. Just wanted to share this one because I appreciate the hard work, great songwriting, and honest heart that’s presented in this album. Great job to the guys at Elevation Worship.

Well, now it’s your turn! What is your favorite resource right now? Let’s share them with each other and be stronger, creative leaders because of it! 

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