Archives for the month of: November, 2015

imgresA curator asked a group of 50 prestigious designers and illustrators to send in their rough drafts and preliminary sketches so that they could be put on display for an art exhibit. This may seem like an odd thing to do since most exhibitions are about finished products. But the curator wanted to show how creativity really happens.

In the book Art and Fear, there is a story about a ceramics teacher who divided students into two groups. Half were told that they would be graded on quantity and the other half would be graded on quality.

The results were shocking. The group that was graded for quantity produced the pots of the highest quality. It seemed that while the ‘quantity’ group was busy lots of pots and learning from their mistakes, the ‘quality’ group sat around thinking about perfection and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than an average looking pot.

imagesConsider the British inventor James Dyson. He didn’t create the dual cyclone vacuum cleaner in a flash of inspiration. His product, now used by millions, didn’t emerge fully formed in his mind. Instead, he did what the group graded for quantity did. He tried and failed, triggering new insights, before trying and failing again and slowly the design improved.

In fact, Dyson worked had 5,126 failed prototypes before coming up with a design that ultimately transformed household cleaning. As he says: “People think of creativity as a mystical process. This model conceives of innovation as something that happens to geniuses. But this could not be more wrong. Creativity is something we can all improve at, by realizing that it has specific characteristics. Above all, it is about daring to learn from our mistakes”.

imgres-1Another great example is Pixar, an animation company that has become synonymous with creativity following its blockbuster successes with Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. You might think that that these stories were put together by geniuses who envisioned what they wanted right from the start. But the reality is very different. The initial ideas for new storylines are just the starting point. It is what happens next that really matters.

The storyline is systematically pulled apart. As the animation gets started, each frame is subject to testing, debate and adaptation. Amazingly, it takes around 12,000 storyboard drawings to make a 90-minute feature, and because of the iterative development process, story teams often create more than 125,000 storyboards by the time the film is actually finished.

Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar, says: “Early on, all of our movies suck. That’s a blunt assessment, I know, but I… choose that phrasing because saying it in a softer way fails to convey how bad the first versions of our films really are. Pixar films are not good at first, and our job is to make them go from suck to non-suck. We are true believers in the iterative process, reworking, reworking and reworking again, until a flawed story finds its through-line or a hollow character finds its soul.”

The problem in the world today is that we only see the amazing movie or the super-efficient vacuum cleaner. What we don’t see is the whole story of how these innovations emerge from trial and error.

Insight is the endpoint of a long term, iterative process, rather than the starting point.

As the neuroscientist David Eagleman says in his book, The Secret Lives of the Brain: “When an idea is served up from behind the scenes, the neural circuitry has been working on the problems for hours or days or years, consolidating information and trying out new combinations.”

Job Search has a lot to do with learning from failure and getting results from trial and error. Success is almost always the result of repeated, and most importantly, refined attempts to make everything come together to get hired.  The secret formula is practice, drill and rehearse and exploring new ways to make a connection with an employer.

Jim Dyson had 5,126 failed prototypes before he became a billionaire by redesigning the vacuum cleaner. Maybe you need 25 or 50 modified resumes and better interviewing skills to find the missing link from getting ignored to getting hired.

Never forget that failure is your friend and your obsessive drive to get the job you deserve is waiting for you if you just keep trying and getting better with each attempt.

obsession-cover-v2 finalMost personal development experts tell you to work hard, visualize yourself succeeding and realize success through the law of attraction. I’ve always been a believer in the saying that “you become what you think about most often.”

Another way of thinking about this mindset is to GET OBSESSED!

The thought of what you want to do or become has to dominate your mind. Learn everything you can about what you want to achieve. Practice or produce relentlessly. and most importantly, think about it everyday.  Only this level of focus will bring you the answers and results you need to accomplish something remarkable.

A simple thing I learned as a pilot is that a plane will not take off until it reaches velocity minimum control (VMC). Any speed less than that will not allow the plane to take off. That’s why having an obsession is so important. Most people drift through life on autopilot. They quit too soon or never put in enough effort to make their goals reality. They mostly just watch TV, surf the Internet and discuss what other people are doing.

However, with an obsession about creating or doing something amazing, you need to have a focused mind. The difference in results this brings about is amazing.

Ever wondered how some of the world’s super achievers became famous? They did so because they were obsessed by what they were creating. They spent endless hours working on their dream and when they weren’t working on it, they were thinking about it. Ways to improve their product, ways to spread their message, ways to improve their communication skills, how great it would feel to enjoy success and every tiny detail they could imagine.

Obsession factor requires 2 key ingredients to be results.

Passion and Action.

It’s difficult to focus your mind to obsessional levels without being passionate about the goal you want to achieve.  Even when you’re truly inspired by the thought of what you want to do, it takes a great deal of discipline to keep returning your thoughts to its realization. Expect the mental discipline of constantly returning your thoughts to what you want to achieve to be tough. However, it DOES work. Allowing your dream to become the dominant thought in your mind ensures something very important – YOU WILL FIND ANSWERS to obstacles you come across along the way.


The action part of obsession is simply focusing on developing DAILY habits that over time virtually guarantee your success. Habits are actually more important than goals. Consider these guys and their work ethic.

Wayne Gretzky

When Wayne Gretzky was a kid, he watched hockey like most players his age. What separated him was the way he watched each game. He would bring a pencil and paper. As the game went on, he would trace the movement of the puck on the paper. So obsessed with learning how the puck moved, he wouldn’t even look down. For hours he studied every movement the puck would make.

Michael Jordan

He loved to win so much that he would go to extreme lengths just to make sure he was never the loser. Jordan used to bet teammates that his bag would be the first to come out of baggage claim when they would travel. Chances of that happening are slim, so his teammates always took the bet. To guarantee that he was right, Jordan would seek out the people loading the bags beforehand and tell them to make sure his bag came out first. While his teammates always looked dumbfounded, Jordan just smiled. He never wanted to lose in anything, and he rarely did.

Today, being obsessed and applying smart business practices can make you amazingly successful. In 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote a personal development book titled, Think and Grow Rich, the result of 20 years of research based on Hill’s close association with individuals who achieved great wealth during their lifetime. The principles in the book still apply today. But one of the principles highlighted in Chapter 2 holds the “secret sauce” – it’s DESIRE!

Focused desire will almost magically bring you the answers and results you need to accomplish something remarkable. Get excited and get going. Start today!

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